David Redfern

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Mentoring Session 3: Water You Gonna Watch

This week saw a fundamental shift from the conceptual to the real as four weeks of research, exploration and ideas generation came to a head, with our group of Future Producers – Aidan, Becci, Ellie, Poppy and Zoe – presenting the fruits of their labour. It was a proud and exciting moment for us as mentors to hear what the team had come up with.

As mentors we have taken them all on a fairly conceptual and slightly risky journey that was sometimes challenging for all of us. The journey took them on roads that explored experimentation, audience research and user focus but as for the talking about what they were actually going to do – well, we left that up to them.

But with their dedication and enthusiasm they have come up with a really interesting response to the brief that we set them. It seems like they got where we were coming from and have responded with real insight and creativity! The wonder of collaboration and co-design.

So now there are six weeks until Aidan, Becci, Ellie, Poppy and Zoe will share their vision of how to connect with audiences ages 18 – 24 in the form of the awesomely titled “Water You Gonna Watch” machine – a unique hand-cranked device that will help people choose a film to see at Watershed. A recommendation machine with real potential scope, vision and – dare we say it – legacy.


But that’s not all – along side this they are planning a launch event featuring the machine. An event that gets the target audience in to the building for an evening of fun and games, which will introduce people to Watershed and prototype the machine and its hand crafted recommendation engine of cinematic joy and wonder.

We’re all looking forward to helping where we can to get the team to turn their ideas into reality. Watch this space!



Future Producers 2013

In 2013 Watershed’s second group of talented young peoplewhilst learning the skills needed to be the producers of the future, worked on a whole host of cultural projects. They divided into teams to coordinate four exciting projects: a mad hatter’s tea party at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio as part of the nation-wide Family Arts Festival; late-night fim screenings and an immersive event around Kubrick’s The Shining as part of the BFI Gothic season; Electric December – Watershed’s advent calendar of new short films from young people around the world; and again,Fresh Flix as part of the 2013 Encounters Festival.

Alongside the core programme Watershed also ran Future Producers Plus in 2013, in association with RIO. The programme provides participants with additional mentoring so they can take on leadership roles and achieve the Gold Arts Award qualification.

Watch the film made about Plus and Gold Arts Award programme at Watershed


Unit 2: Arts Leadership. BFI Gothic Season #4 – My Role and Responsibilities

My Specific Role
Head of Online Copy and Promotion for BFI Gothic Season Events.This role required me to produce copy for both the Friday Late Night Screenings and the Shining immersive event for social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Such copy would be both promotional and intending to maintain the social network buzz for the events. For the immersive event in particular, this would be achieved through copy that maintained an immersive, character voice inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s film, The Shining.

As such, I would be liaising with Claire Stewart, Digital Communications Manager at the Watershed, as well as the rest of my Gothic Team, particularly our Project Manager and Head of Marketing Visuals, Zoe Horn Haywood. This would be in order to ensure that the copy would be appropriate to the promotional voice of the Watershed, as well as to create a coherence between the copy and visual images used for promotion. I would also be able to utilize the Watershed’s existing presence in the social media, such as having my Twitter promotions being re-tweeted by members of the Watershed staff, thus reaching a wider artistic audience.

My main responsibilities to achieve before the events were in:

  1. Creating promotional copy for Late Night Friday screenings, to be distributed on Facebook and Twitter. I aimed to emulate the jovial use of social media promotion used by Future Cinema, who are well known for their immersive cinema events. This involved compiling a Google document contributed to by both Zoe and myself with a back catalogue of promotional copy and accompanying images. Such content was to be shared with and approved by Claire Stewart, Digital Communications Manager at the Watershed. To be completed by the end of October and distributed the weeks leading up to each Friday event via the Late Nights at the Watershed Facebook Event Page, as well as the personal Facebook and Twitter pages of the Gothic Team and the Future Producers. Tweets could also be re-tweeted by Watershed members of staff, as well as our creative collaborators, Compass Presents, thus widening awareness for the events by utilizing their Twitter followers. The use of the event page would communicate directly with our existing ticket-holders, while the use of personal social media pages would reach our target age range of 18-25 year olds as the Future Producers adhere to this demographic.
  2. Contributing along with my other team mates to the design and copy for the promotional flyer for the BFI Gothic Season events hosted by the Watershed. Such ideas were to be discussed via a Google document with my Gothic team mates, with a final decision being made as a group to submit our most popular ideas as a Google document to the Watershed Communications Team (Comms) by the beginning of September. This was to ensure that both the group and the Watershed were happy with the finished product of hard-copy flyers to be used as promotion. Through this collaboration with the Watershed’s Comms Team, we were able to choose the umbrella title for our programme of events, ‘The Corridor Sessions’, and connected such a title with an image of a spooky corridor, designed by creative collaborators of the Watershed, Smith and Milton. Such hard-copy promotion was then to be distributed at local university Fresher’s Fairs (such as the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England), thus reaching our target age-range of 18-25 year olds; as well as to be displayed in the Watershed Box Office to appeal to the visiting public of the Watershed building.

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    ‘The Corridor Sessions’ final flyer design

  3. Creating copy for an in-character email for the audience of The Shining immersive event, for which Zoe Horn Haywood would provide the visual, graphic template. To be written in the style of the Hotel Manager of the Overlook, and include information needed about the proceedings of the night of the event. To be completed mid-November, and approved by Zoe Horn Haywood and Claire Stewart, and be distributed to ticket-holders using the resource of the Watershed’s online booking system. Emails would be sent out a few weeks before the event.
  4. Create copy for interactive promotion with the audience of The Shining immersive event, in collaboration with Zoe Horn Haywood, whose responsibility was to source high quality images to connect with such copy. Such copy was included in the Google document of copy for the Late Night Screenings. To be completed and distributed on Facebook and Twitter during the month of November, leading up to the event. To be approved by Zoe Horn Haywood and Claire Stewart, and distributed on the Facebook Event Page for the Gothic Season events as well as via the personal Facebook and Twitter pages of the Gothic Season Team and the Future Producers, allowing us to reach both our existing audience and a wider, potential audience adhering to our target age-range of 18-25 year olds.
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    Example of immersive Facebook promotion for ‘The Shining’

    Example of immersive Twitter promotion for 'The Shining'

    Example of immersive Twitter promotion for ‘The Shining’


Due to the online promotion for these events being a collaborative process between myself, the Gothic Team and the Comms Team of the Watershed, numerous alterations had to be made to the online copy before it could be distributed online. Though none of my main aims were altered, several drafts and edits had to be made to the copy in order for it to adhere to the existing online presence and image of the Watershed. Thus, there was frequent communication between myself, Zoe Horn Haywood and Claire Stewart, with Zoe taking on the main liaison role given her role as Project Manager for the Gothic Team. While some of my content was used, Claire was also able to alter my copy and create copy based upon the outline of my copy, such as for the in-character email for the audience of The Shining immersive event. This once more demonstrated to me the importance of working as a team, and the need to adapt within the collaborative creative process of putting on an event, to suit the requirements of the organization you are running an event with.

Health and Safety
In terms of Health and Safety from the perspective of promotion, I had to ensure that the content used in promotion would be appropriate for those under the ages of 18 to see. Though our marketing and promotion was aimed at 18-25 year olds (in coherence with our brief), I knew that under 18s would have easy access to viewing such content, such as online images and copy on social media outlets, and hard copy flyers. Thus, I ensured that the images and copy that was created and used for promotion were inoffensive yet engaging, with no mature or graphic content being used, while making clear in the copy that such events were aimed at over 18s. We also tried to make our marketing methods as age-specific as possible by distributing hard copy flyers at university freshers fairs, as university students adhere perfectly to our target age-group.

My responsibilities during the immersive event were:

  1. To ensure that there was an on-going buzz for the event on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. My Gothic Team mates were able to make exciting tweets including images of the events, which were connected via the BFI hashtag, #bfigothic. I was also able to make some immersive posts on the Late Nights at the Watershed Facebook Events page on the day of the event, prior to the start of the event.
  2. I was also tasked with staffing W2, where our performer as Jack Torrance was set up to type away at his writing desk, and who would become increasingly deranged and erratic throughout the course of the night. I was to keep an eye on the performer to check if he needed any refreshment at any point, as well as to ensure the audience didn’t behave inappropriately with him. This was to take place from the start of the event until the film screening at 11pm.
  3. I headed up collecting feedback from audience members following the film screening with the great help of fellow Future Producer, Hannah. Such feedback was later correlated by the Watershed, and demonstrated that the night was successful in its entertainment value, and in an important aim of our brief; that our audience would be keen to return to the Watershed for other events and screenings.



Our immersive event was a general success, as our feedback demonstrated that a high proportion of the audience really enjoyed themselves and wished to return to the Watershed for future events. However, our feedback demonstrated that the main method by which our audience heard about the event was by word of mouth. It was thus apparent that my online promotions from the perspective of promoting the events to gain an audience through social media outlets had not been effective. This being said, from the perspective of creating an immersive atmosphere through online content, aiming to keep an in-character buzz going for the event, this aspect of my online promotion was successful as we received some interaction from ticket holders on posts made on the Late Nights at the Watershed Facebook Events Page. Though online promotion to gain a wider audience was not effective, I have learnt that such promotion needs to be more persistent, well timed and well placed. If I were to improve or alter my work for this event, I would have posted more constant promotional content via social media outlets, posting in Facebook groups which the events would appeal to (such as University Film Society groups), and utilizing a resource of appropriate Twitter contacts (such as film groups and university Twitter pages) to re-tweet such online promotion. My experiences with online promotion through this programme of events have thus nevertheless been useful, and have aided in my understanding of effective marketing and communicative promotion.

Interview with Kathryn Harris from Acta- Unit 1 Part C

Over the last few months I have undertaken a number of work placements and internships and have started to find a range of areas of interest. Before working with ‘Strike A Light Festival’ and ‘GDance’ I hadn’t thought much about being involved with community and outreach projects but this is something I’m becoming more and more interested in. I decided to look into this area further. A company that particularly sparked my interest was ‘Acta’- a Bristol based Theatre Company.

“acta uses the power of theatre to change people’s lives. We do this by involving people in creating their own original plays and performance projects.  Our unique ability to actively involve the hardest to reach sections of society is universally admired and respected.

We believe that theatre belongs to everyone, and everyone has a story to tell. Their voices are often not heard, so acta creates a place where everyone’s story matters, where individual opinions and experiences count, and are valued by others. We enable communities to share their stories, and engage at least 4 out of 5 audience members who rarely attend theatre.

Our projects create positive change in individuals, raising aspirations and improving skills, confidence, self-worth & employability; we enable people to work together, make theatre and have fun.

acta’s programme of work is underpinned by the following core principles:

Access – providing opportunities to create, engage with and enjoy the arts; we ensure our programme is affordable, relevant, reflective and proactive

Participation – active creative involvement in making original theatre and art; building skills, self-esteem & employability for individuals; bringing people together for a common purpose, building confidence & pride of place.

Diversity – acta seeks to redress balance of engagement in arts by targeting opportunities at excluded communities. The Company supports the creative case for diversity; the arts need people from all sections of the community, keeping work fresh, bringing in new ideas, influences & cultures.

Quality – creating and producing art of the highest quality, providing the highest quality of participant experience and collaborating with well-respected theatre-makers.”

I really admire their core principles. The idea of offering people from all walks of life the opportunity to see/be involved with high quality performance really excites me. I wanted to learn more so got in touch with Kathryn Harris, the programme assistant at Acta. I originally just asked for some advice on starting out in the creative industries.

“My advice, which is just what I did and the only thing I know is to ask for as much shadowing on any kind of project. Go and see how other people work. Say yes to everything (for as long as you can afford it) always talk to as many people as possible about getting experience and get involved with some community work anywhere, just shows that your good with people and get stuff done!”

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I found her background really quite interesting and thought interviewing her about her career journey so far would be helpful for my own professional development. I mainly asked her about Acta, her job role and if she had any further advice for those starting out in the arts industry.

I found her passion and confidence hugely inspiring and shall definitely take her advice on board. Interviewing Kathryn has definitely furthered my interest in community arts projects and I hope to perhaps be able to get involved with a project alongside Kathryn/Acta in the future.


Unit 1 Part C: Research and Review Advanced Arts Practitioners #4

An Interview with David Pirie from Alexandra Ricou on Vimeo.

This is my interview with the screenwriter, film producer, film critic and novelist David Pirie. Mr Pirie was a great pleasure to interview and a truly inspiring person. His vast knowledge of film and television from the varying perspectives of a writer, producer and a critic was extremely fascinating to someone who has a keen interest in following a career in such mediums, like myself. It was an wonderful experience and opportunity to interview such a prestigious professional.

Having now begun my university module in Screenwriting, looking back on this interview highlights for me how key Mr Pirie’s advice is to people starting out in writing. For me, I think, his most useful advice is in the view of initially getting yourself known within the creative industry, and the only way this can be positively achieved is by creating a portfolio of examples of your work. Such a technique allows one to be proactive in seeking employment by allowing you to build up and hone your own writing style and credibility. Indeed, such advice has inspired me to be pro-actively creative, and as such, I have become the In-House Writer for the relatively new Warwick Rep Theatre Company (a theatre company based at my university, Warwick), as well as having begun to compile a creative blog. Certainly, one of my resolutions for this new year is to be ever more creative and proactive in getting my work shown and distributed.

Immersive Event (Unit 2) #2: My Leadership Role in Team Gothic

Over the course of my time as part of the BFI Gothic Season where I worked primarily on our Shining Gothic Immersive cinema event I found myself trying to present different types of leadership and commitment to different areas of the project depending on the group’s needs at that present time. There were three phrases to my role within the team during three different periods of the Shining immersive cinema screenings development.

1) Aiding the direction, discussion and creative development of what our immersive screening was to become.
2) Taking a lead on the less creative aspects of the production with Health and Safety and evaluation.
3) Taking control of tech and stripping down our technical requirements to what was needed to create the right effect to create our version of the Overlook Hotel.

In each also I felt I also learnt how to be adaptable with my communication skills in getting my ideas and points across both verbally and on paper/email, something which has been the most challenging part of my experience on the project due to my dyslexia and thousand thoughts a minute thought process. Similarly my dyslexia also posed problems when it came to planning, but I found the best way to make sure I was structuring and explaining different concepts and requirements for our event was by dedicating more of my free time during my work breaks and downtime to re-editing my documents and emails over and over again before sending them.

Likewise I also had to learn how to judge and evaulate the use of different types of feedback related to the development of our event, my performance and the requirements of the team…but more on that in the following sections.

I am going to break down these three stages of the project’s development to further explain my role within the team and explain what I have learnt from this portion of the Future Producer’s program.

1) The Creative Direction:

Early on I felt I started out wanting to take a lead responsibility over the creative aspects of the immersive cinema evening after I decided not to put myself forward for the mini-team (Alex, Varun and J) who would decide on the final three films for the late-night screenings.

At the start of the project my original desires to be involved solely in conceiving ideas, installations and creating a story-line to build the event. As a writer, one who has written for the stage and had been involved in a series of immersive theatre events before, I felt I had the experience to help lead this area. Also the creative bug in me was biting because right in front of was an opportunity to use my love of story-telling for this event. I had to miss our first team meeting due to my pre-booked holiday to Edinburgh, but this did not me submitting my ideas about what the immersive event should be and an idea I had conceived based around James Whale’s Gothic classic, Frankenstein (which can be found in the below pictures).

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The idea received mixed reviews and did not seem to capture the spark that we wanted that would attract our target demographic in that my idea was based around an old film, that while some-what dated, has been re-worked and re-done in a lot of pop culture forms from updated versions of the story in films, books and TV shows and might not be original enough. As a writer I am use to the criticism of editors, readers and audiences from the start I wanted to communicate to the rest of the team that this was just one idea that could be taken or left or elements which could be used. I also wanted to encourage discussion and thought early on about as a team what we wanted to do with the event so we could start sharing ideas and begin getting on the same wavelength about what would be best for the event.

The discussion of ideas began

The way I intended (and hopefully) communicated also was in an open and honest way in starting discussion rather than trying to domineer and take an overall control of this aspect of producing the ideas, concepts and/or story-lines for the event. Also the idea for the Frankenstein event was also built up on different ideas that the other Future Producers suggested during our initial presentations of what we would like to produce as part of the Gothic Season including Zoe’s ideas about a mad scientist themed after-party for the immersive film screening to Lily’s and Alex’s ideas of exploring the history of witchcraft and magic in the South West.

From my experiences in the classroom, on the rugby pitch, university theatre and watching ‘The Apprentice’ I have seen how a leadership role changes an individual from a being a productive team-playing to a megalomaniac who controls everything and believes want they says goes. I have found that within a leadership role, whether as a TA, director, rugby player or team leader that a team or group of individuals, especially creative ones need to be guided and allowed to explore ideas rather than forced in a direction that could be disastrous.

Early on one of the most challenge things was that a lot of ideas began to emerge. I learnt quickly about communicating with the rest of the group was to keep resilient when it came to discussing the immersive event and our selection of film choices for the late-night screenings.

Working within a large group meant that for every idea there were always a lot of constructive criticism. At times discussions could seem like battles over what film might work better or why someone did not feel Film A was as good as Film B or which ideas were best. I found it important to keep perspective and the focus on doing what is best for the project and this began a mantra that I would say to myself and others during discussions.

I felt this felted myself and others to lead discussion and acted as a form of motivation as we continually questioned what our aims for the Gothic immersive event were and think beyond what we most like to create and consider what our audience would most likely want to pay to experience. Also I hoped it would help other members of the team who might not have been used to constructive criticism of their ideas to take blows to their confidence easier. This helped us to eventually outline what kind of films we wanted to avoid for both the screenings and immersive event, like monster movies or films with limited mass market potential.

Likewise I felt I was able to motivate people during discussion by questioning the value and ways we could add or take the ideas suggested further for the immersive event. For example, when we eventually picked the Shining as our main film for the immersive evening, I wrote up all the notes I had taken about all the possible installations, characters, events and potential story-lines we could use for the event from everyone and included some of my own ideas related to how as part of the experience the audience could be made to feel as though they are ghosts trapped in the Hotel no different to the characters in the film.

The Shining Immersive Cinema Night Ideas 2

However, I think through my honest communication I was finding more and more that I needed to let go of some of my grand script and clever ideas for the event. I soon began to think about our time frame and the scale of our ambitions and began realizing that the feedback my ideas often received were highlighting that I was being too ambitious in my desires to want to create an event that would be driven by a multi-layered storyline and would be more about exploring themes within the film through the theatrical elements before the screening. What was best for the project was for me to forget about the immersive event being like the interactive theatre events I had done before and the experience we needed to give the audience would give them more freedom and be based more around the set-pieces that surround them.

It took us several weeks before we finally decided on our individual roles within the team and by this time our ideas were becoming finalized and due to my past experience I did not want to compete or take a position working on on either the writing based side of the project. Alex took the lead of or leadership over taking charge of organising and directing external talent. For both roles Alex and Flo wanted it more than me and by this time I had found that with either role I would not have been able to able my writing or directing skills in the way that I would have wanted to as we had decided that it would be too complicated to have a script for the event.

If I could do things differently in the future if I ever get the chance to do a similar style of event in the future I now know that I need to consider realistically the time scale of the project and figure out what is the best type of structure needed to make the event viable. For example, does the event need to be more theatrical elements, dialogue and characters based piece or game like a Punchdrunk event or is it more about the atmosphere, activities and experience like a Secret Cinema Event.

2) Health, Safety and Evaluation:

When discussing with Zoe the roles left I took leadership of Health and Safety because one of the roles I have yet to take and learn from within my art form of theatre-making/producing is that of a stage manager who’s role is partly to take control of this aspect of a performance. I also took a co-leadership role over evaluation due to having experience of evaluating performances as part of my role (both for students and for myself) and because I felt learning about how to better improve both my practice and that of others would add to my leadership skills.

When it came to discussing how we evaluated the different variables and contributors to our success as I project (as I mentioned previously in Immersive Event #1) we planned and mapped out what we considered a reasonable about of questions to ask ourselves, then and after we had completed the event, the audience and those who worked along side us, whether the be Watershed staff or external talent like actors or musicians.

We had planned out a lot but we quickly found in practice that due to our work commitments, other responsibilities and the feedback of the rest of our team, we discovered that we needed to re-think our plans. The other team members did not feel they would have the time to answer the questions we had sent in an effective manner and they did not believe the Watershed staff or our external talent would be able to do so in a satisfactory manner either.

From this I believe Zoe and myself learnt as leaders the importance of prioritizing the needs of our team and the Watershed before over original plans. Although we would have liked to have evaluated all contributors to the project, the just over a month time period that was staring us in the face demanded that we focused on what was more important for the project. Helping the Watershed attract and find a new way to appeal to 18-25 non-attenders.

Instead we adapted and re-worked our plan to focus primarily on the audience’s feedback, which would help our own development, showcase our event’s success and would provide the Watershed with the views and opinions of their target audience of young non-attenders. The successful results of which can be found below.


Differently the next time I am involved in a project I will look to encourage continual evaluation of my role and others and the direction of the production. I will plan better for how this will fit within the schedule of the production, but I do believe is does not have to be based all on answers on questionnaires, but could be done simply through notes and discussion at different points of the development process.

As in a sense evaluation, I did continue to evaluate a more informal manner during later communication. Through the development process and stripping back of our intended installations and technical requirements for the event I found myself looking at our progress and looking to highlighting to the rest of the team the direction we needed to head in regards to tech. More of this will be explained shortly in the next section.

Taking control of Health and Safety was easier in that planning and organising what we needed to include in the risk assessment I had access to previous event risk assessments. Occasionally new pieces of information had to be added as the weeks went but for the most part I was also able to do plan ahead and complete it over a weekend which then gave me time to help out my team-mates with other tasks.

3) Hit the Lights

The most significant task (and definitely the most stressful, yet most enjoyable) that I took was taking a leading role organising and sorting our technical needs.

During one of our meetings I could see that Varun had a lot on his plate with organising music for the event and I offered to help him. I did not want him to take too much on. Leadership at times is as much about delegation as taking more work on, but at the time I felt I was more than able to aid on this side of the project as I had previously been involved in theatre tech before on a number of occasions.

I had to write an initial contact email to the Watershed’s Projection Team leader, Ewan, introducing myself and Varun and giving him details of what we required for the immersive Shining screening. We still needed to most to a decision on how exactly we were going to re-create the lighting of the Overlook Hotel and in the email I floated a lot of the ideas to Ewan looking for advice. At the time we were stripping back on all our ideas but it seemed as a team we were reluctant to do so.

While writing the email I felt it would be best to outline our then-current ideas about what we may require for tech, which was actually quite a lot. I had to re-draft the email on several occasions to best explain our plans and I wrote the first of two versions of a tech run through script that outlined everything from

A copy of our edited down tech run-through guide that I wrote up for the team:
shining tech info for Ewan 1

I organised to meet with Ewan who helped me to realize that we needed to really move and get our tech requirements stripped down to what was necessary. He also filled me in on both what things we could do and what things we couldn’t. After talking with Maddie, one of our mentors helping to oversee the project at the Watershed, we decided I should take a lead over tech and I sent out the follow email to feedback on what I had been told.

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With my work with health and safety and evaluation pre-prepared I was able to take my tech experience to take leadership over co-ordinating with Ewan and the rest of the Watershed staff on our tech needs and exploring different technical effects. We decided that we would use minimum lights within the Waterside spaces and that we would only use several spotlights that were already in place that would directly highlight our installations.

The most problematic aspect of the process was writing our plans out in the technical run-through guide as that required not only for me to list and note the exact number of lights and pieces but to provide Ewan and the technicians with exact instructions on each different environment and installations in chronicle order. I also found myself learning to colour code and abbreviation information to make it easier to read and communicate better with the reader. These skills have helped me to be more precise and exact in giving commands to those I work with and has helped me to learn how to best present long pieces of data using a colour system to people who need to know what they are doing fast and with ease. This is something I will definitely be taking forward with me into other productions.

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I also had to send emails to different branches of the Watershed to inform the relevant managers of our plans and different requirements for music and lighting, which was more time consuming.

For the most part I had completed my role by our technical run through night as by this time our technican plans had been finalized, music for different spaces and our other sound requirements (a live microphone connected to the typewriter in Waterside 2) were successfully tested. We were also able to test a different type of lighting effect to the white lights I had picked to use in most of the venue.

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Ewan had suggested creating a gobbo, a template slide over a light that would move to create a pattern and this was something I pushed for us to experiment with on the tech night to see what effect it would add to the corridor scene with the twins. To organize I had to contact the Watershed’s handyman to ask if he would be able to make one for the event.

The gobo helped create a river of blood kind of effect that stretched up the cinema corridor over the twins dead bodies and towards the audience.


By the end of the Shining Immersive Screening working on the technical side of things helped me learn two more things about theatre-making that have helped enhance how I will write and direct a theatre-based production in the future.

Firstly, although I had worked on lighting and tech before I was able to gain a greater knowledge of how to use darkness and less lighting to create a more unsettling effect and mood of a piece. Also I learnt through Ewan that it is important to work with a venue’s in house technicans in the sense of using their knowledge and understanding of how they have lit the suggested stage before as a starting point for planning tech as this in hindsight would have made planning our tech easier.

Although I am someone who believes it is better to think big and scale back, in retrospect I think if we could have done things differently it would have been easier to come up with the ideas for the mood we wanted to create and then build our tech around that using Ewan’s knowledge. In the future I think I will co-plan tech with someone who has experience or has/does work within the venue in order to better understand the limits and possibilities of different lighting and technology based effects we can create.

Secondly, I found that through constant re-drafting and re-simplifying emails and documents about our tech requirements, Health and Safety issues and key questions for our evaluations I was able to learn more about how theses necessary parts of a production can be time-consuming, yet creative in their own way. In particular when it came to planning our technical requirements I was able to help to use the lighting to highlight and add to our set, strengthening it’s positives and hiding the weaknesses.

Likewise I had learnt how my style of leadership throughout the process evolved into me deciding during the different development stages of the project was based around seeing what needed to be done and taking control over it and if necessarily learning when it was best to let someone else take over, for example with the creative aspects of the event.

On the night of the Shining screening my role was completed. All that was left for me to do was hide in the closet near where the audience would enter the Gold Room and wait for each tour group to pass before I acted like a crazed man who had been locked out of the sight. It was an experience that some of the terrified members of the Watershed staff, who were sitting in their staff room next door to where I was stationed did not forget easy. My fists, feet and head hurt from making so much noise.

When I eventually came out of the closet (haha) I was able to see our audience enjoy the installations and environment we had created.


I was ready to enjoy watching the uncut version of The Shining in the comfort of a cinema…when last minute there were issues with the gobo that had to be sorted. I mainly had to make sure it was placed in the right position and then after I was done…and that did feel both good but bittersweet.

The entire project had been fantastic to work on and getting to work outside of my comfort zone and learning from so many different angles of how a production is put together will definitely serve me well for my own production work later in the year. I feel better prepared to leading my own production and overseeing a team and hopefully I won’t end up losing it like in the picture below.

Here’s Jamesy! james shining

The Looking Glass ‘Grande Finale’- Unit 1 Part C


The Looking Glass was an arts bar and gallery in Bristol. It was a part of Bristol City Council’s Capacity Project, which opens up empty and underused buildings for creative uses. I think this is such a great scheme as it hugely benefits artists and communities. The use of temporary spaces for art projects really adds a sense of vibrancy and transformation to the city. The Looking Glass had a fantastic run but unfortunately the building was sold on so it had to close. I completed a short internship there so attended “The Grande Finale” event.

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They had an evening of various cabaret acts, music and interactive performance. I really enjoyed the diversity of the event and the social aspect, with people drinking, chatting and dancing. It was really interesting watching performance in such a vibrant atmosphere. I really liked the idea of having performers interacting with the audience. As you entered you were met by female “penguins” who handed out champagne and enticed people to play roulette. Downstairs in the gallery space ‘Prawnucopia’ set up a very strange spa experience.  It had a real festival vibe to it, which seemed particularly exciting on a rainy autumn night. It really helped to confirm my interest in surreal themed events.

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I had such a fantastic night and started to realise how much a cabaret style of performance interests me. I have been doing further research and am hoping to attend more events of a similar style. There are a few production companies that specialise in these style of events in Bristol so I am hoping I may have the chance to gain some experience.

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Gothic Immersive Event (Unit 2) #1: Team Gothic and Our Event

After the presentation I gave in July proposing my desire to be involved in the Future Producer’s team working on Watershed’s BFI Gothic: The Dark Heart of Cinema Season, (details of the presentation and original pitch and ideas can be found at blog) to well, the aftermath where the event ended just over two months ago, I find myself reflecting back with great pride on what our team accomplished. I am also feeling pretty great about my own contributions towards the main event of our season, the immersive cinema event that over the weeks leading up to the event was chopped, changed, stripped back, scrutinized, simplified and evolved into what became…well let’s start at the beginning!

The Brief:

Our brief was to create an Immersive Dark Arts cinema event at the end of November were for one night the Watershed would be turned into a unique, chilling Gothic pre-screening experience based around the film of our choice that would attract Watershed non-attenders between 18-25 to come see a film in their cinema and learn what the Watershed is all about. With the support of our co-curators, Compass Presents, a group known for their immersive/expanded cinema and theatre, we were asked to make the event an interactive experience that would play with our audiences emotions in a way that would make them feel like they were taking part in the film, in a similar vain to Future Cinema.

However, added into our brief were a few more surprises. Our immersive cinema event could become the grand finale of the Watershed’s extended BFI Gothic Season which we include in the lead up to the event three late night Gothic film screenings, that we would co-curate a music workshop based around scoring a soundtrack to a silent Gothic short film. For the team this gave us a lot to think about and there were a lot of voices.

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The Team:

We were a seven person team, the largest of the Future Producer groups. Seven of us including myself who came from a wide range of backgrounds and interests with a few bucketfuls of ideas each and who in the end managed different aspects of our immersive cinema event. In total our team included three designers, a director, a photographer and an actor.

1) Zoe, a graphic designer whose organisation skills helped drive the projects forward, kept the team together and helped myself co-ordinate evaluations as well as heading marketing and publicity.
2) Flo, a performance enthusiastic printmaker who became our team’s external talent and performers manager.
3) J, a set designer and stage manager who took control over set design, costumes and props.
4) A film director and music/sound enthusiast, Varun who took a lead on helping to curate films for the late night screenings and organising the music and sound effects for the immersive event.
5) Alex, another theatre creative and performance lover who focused on marketing and publicity work with Zoe and aided Flo.
6) Lily, a photographer and fine art student who focused in the beginning of the course by taking a lead on aiding the organisation of the music workshop.
7) And me…with my first responsibility being to oversee Health and Safety and create risk assessments for the immersive cinema event, secondly aiding Zoe with evaluating the success of our events and then later on being the lead on co-ordinating our technical requirements for lighting and aiding Varun to upload our music and sound effects to the Watershed computer system. But more on that later in the next blog!

However, to start with we had the issues of picking and setting in stone our films for both the Gothic immersive event and the late night film screenings which meant a lot of films to watch and not all of them were on the BFI’s Gothic Digital Cinema Package, as you can see below!

This is only page one!

Our Audience:

From the start however, one thing we knew and we were always able to come back to…our target audience.

We had knew and were able to do from the start was know how to let young people across Bristol know about our event. Knowing that like ourselves our audience would be young creatives, Bristol arts, interested in pop culture, geek culture, interactive theatre and film-enthusiasts, Gothic lovers or any combination of the previous we between us we knew potential ways to market an event towards. Whether by using the Watershed’s and our own and other Future Producers personal social media links and connections on Twitter and Facebook (the latter where we later created an event page). Likewise we knew possible locations where we could distribute flyers to venues and groups across Bristol from the arts Cafes and bars in Clifton, to theatre and arts venues in the the city centre, Stokes Croft, Bedminster and Southville (my neck of the woods where I flyered) and most importantly, the two universities in Bristol.

Likewise we had at our hands a brilliant marketing team at the Watershed who were able to create a visual stunning flyer for us that also tied in our event with a series of horror late night films curated by acclaimed British horror director Ben Wheatley which would give us another potential market to attract some of our target audience from with fans of horror films. Flyers were also distributed by myself and the team at the end of the Wheatley late night screenings as well as our Gothic screenings.

Picking the Right Films and the Theme:

When it came to picking the film for the immersive screening I and the rest of the team struggled to suggest or find an appropriate film. The problem we had was finding a film that would give appeal to our target audience and would also allow us enough creative freedom and scope to create a layered immersive event with plenty of options for recreating famous scenes that our audience would want to interact with. Not just that but we had to create around the event and the films we picked for the screenings a theme that would sum up the direction of our season.

Eventually, however, one film was suggested that gave us the chance to create the illusive ‘experience’ and emotions we wanted to instill in our audience. One that audience members would know well due to the film’s classic cult following, famous and genre transcending scenes, costume, props and set design (which could be recreated on a budget) and would certainly connect to our core audiences interests and wants for an immersive experience. It also helped us to build the season around a solid theme that is a constant stable of Gothic works of fiction.

The Shining! A film rich in history and still relevant and at the time back in the spotlight due to the release of the Shining’s book sequel, Doctor Sleep and also Jack Nicholson’s retirement from acting. This also lead to the creation of the theme for the entire season; ‘The Corridor Sessions’, as all the films revolve around horrific and ghostly events occurring within the confines of enclosed spaces and corridors. As seen on our flyers below:

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This allowed Alex, J and Varun (our designated late screening screening selection team) to pick for the late night screenings to pick three our favourite Gothic films from around the world that all revolved around small, unusual and Gothic spaces with the acid-trip Korean horror film Hausu, Roman Polanski’s British-based psychological thriller Repulsion and Italian witch-based horror Suspiria.


Plans and Installations for the Shining Immersive Event:

We knew from the moment we picked the Shining to build our immersive event around that it was a marketable film that would sell tickets and that our audience would be interested in. We had no doubts or limits to the possible creative set-ups, scenes, pieces of set, props, costume, music, characters we could use to make the audience feel that the Watershed is the Overlook Hotel.

Given our budget also we believed it would be workable to even at it’s most basic and stripped back re-create the basic aspects of the Overlook’s motif, in particular the classic and most memorable parts of its interior like the pattern carpet which we could re-create using the projectors and video screens to display on walls around our selected spaces.


Likewise given the minimum nature of the corridors and sets within the film we knew that however we chose to create set-pieces or moments from the film with props like typewriters, a tricycle and photographs would be attainable and not majorly expensive as that the set.

The main issue we knew we would have to resolve and that caused some headaches during decision times was what set-pieces and installations we would use and focus on and would be enough to engage and emotional influence our audience during the pre-screening period in the Waterside spaces.

To make the project work we knew we would have to not only sell tickets but interest our audience during the 1-2 hours they would have in the Watershed before the screening and that to make those non-attenders revisit the venue we had to give them effort options and engaging possibilities to keep them and the 100 or so other guests entertained.

We would know if the project would work based on the collection of installations we acquired or created and if this satisfied and entertained the majority of our audience.

This took sometime and there were a lot of ideas suggested. This for example is an early draft of all the ideas that had been suggested by others that I collected together into a document, along with my own creative possibilities for the evening. WP_000191

With the aid of Compass Presents and the Watershed’s Cinema Programme Producer, Maddy Probst and based off of Zoe’s and Flo’s research and suggestions we were able to narrow down our options.

Timeline for the Shining Event:

After a lot of debating, cutting and support from our co-curators Compass Presents we stripped down our ideas for the The Shining Immersive Evening to the following:

Before the event the audience were sent in advance an emailed with a welcome letter written by the hotel manager wishing them a pleasant stay and informing them about the 1920’s dress code for the night’s festivities.

On the night the audience arrived in groups at ten-minute intervals (organised based on their replies to the aforementioned email) to collect their tickets from the Watershed’s Front of House desk and then were told to make their way to the guest’s entrance (the fire escape route at the back of the building) around the corridor.

At the front desk they checked into the hotel and were given a room key. Once the audience group for that time block had arrived one of our two hotel managers took them on a tour through the corridor, past the kitchen and storage room and down a corridor that was blocked off to the public in the next door Watershed Cafe bar towards the Waterside 2 that served as our Gold Room.

The managers gave a speech on the history of the hotel on this tour and just before arriving at the Gold Room the sounds of ferocious and vicious banging would be heard from a near-by cupboard where I was stationed to acting like someone who had been looked in their (another nod to the film).

The audience were then rushed into Waterside Two were an actor playing a writer was sat trying to work on his latest piece with no luck and who over the course of the course of the night began losing his mind as he interacted with the audience.

In Waterside 3, our decorated Gold Room the audience were given the freedom to put their bags and clothes in storage, buy drinks from the mobile bar and interact with several of the interactive pieces and events set up in Waterside 3 and in the connecting corridor that lead to Waterside 1. They had all the time before the 11PM screening to explore the spaces and installations.

These interactive pieces in Waterside 3 included a telecommunications system, given to us by Compass Presents where the audience could talk with Varun in a weird series of ghostly conversations, a photo-booth were audience members could have their pictures taken posing with an ax with their faces poking through a broken wooden door.

In Waterside 3 we also had one of the Watershed’s magicians in residents sat in doctor’s cubicle giving readings on which characters in the Shining they are most like and performing mind-reading tricks to individual audience members.

In the connecting corridor there was also an exhibition piece of horogrami of the Overlook Hotel (click here to view) and in Waterside 1 was another the Watershed’s other Magician in Residences who, using the guest’s hotel room keys that they had been given when checking in, tested with larger groups of our audience if anyone possessed the Shining.

At 11 audience members were informed it was almost time for the screening and the volunteers helping to co-ordinate and act as stewards managing and keeping an eye on the different parts of the venue created a line of staff stretching from the darkened and deserted Waterside Cafe to the cinema. The audience walked past a line of blank faced staff on their way to the cinema and some of them who had been looking down the far end of the corridor would have seen these two figures standing with their backs to them.

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After the screening the audience exited the cinema and could see the final touches of the evening, a red-soaked filled elevator (posing as an elevator with a river of blood), two dead twins lying at the far end of the corridor and the swing-dancers who opened the after-screening party in the Watershed Cafe bar, which acted as our final nod to the film with it’s 4th July party.

In the Waterside area also several of the movable installations also moved into the space including the photography booth and additionally typewriters for the audience to have a go at writing their own lines. A music playlist designed by Varun played until the end of the night around 2AM when the audience slowly began leaving.

Compared with the ideas that were generated in the development stage:
The Shining Immersive Cinema Night Ideas 2

Sourcing Resources (People, Set, Lights, Costume, Props and More):

For the event a lot of resources were required to put together the immersive night, although the Watershed and Compass Presents were able to help provide some of the things we needed from our budget and from what they had available.

Our budget included money for film fees, hiring of professional musicians for the music workshop and the room hire of the Watershed spaces. The mobile bar we used in our Gold Room belonged to the Watershed and due to Watershed staff being involved on the night selling food and drink this was one thing we did not need to worry about.

Staff for the immersive event and film screenings were either pre-booked and paid for by the Watershed and additional stewards and support for the event we gained through asking other Future Producers or friends who we knew who’d be interested in seeing the Shining screened were roped in as volunteers. Performers for the evening in the form of our managers, twins, writer and dancers were recruited by Flo at either a low cost per person or for free due to knowing the actors. Similiarily with the photographer we would not have to pay for him as he would gain money through getting the audience to pay a small price for the pictures they wanted printed.

To re-create some of the details of the film we required numerous amounts of props to create small details and to create an authentic feel of the hotel. From pictures and picture frames displaying the hotel’s history and guests and medical props for the ‘doctors spaces’, our magicians in residence spaces to notable and ironic aspects of the film like typewriters and a tricycle.

Most of our set and props we were able to borrow from people we knew (typewriters, the door for the photo-booth, a painting of the cigarettes that Jack smokes), the Watershed (sofas, a writer’s desk, screens) or Compass Presents (the telecommunication system, fabrics and coat-hangers for the coat racks). Some items such as the horogami Overlook Hotel we were able to borrow for free after a member of the Watershed staff were able to get it for us on their way back from London. Other props and set like the tricycle were donated to us.

The main props and small decorations that we had to spend money on were for things like buying 300 keys, printing sign-age for the building and labels to attach to the keys, small fake candle lights for tables, extra bits of material to cover the sofas, balloons and other bits of party material. This helped to keep costs down.

Signage complilation

In the end we did not need to pay any high-costs for hiring extra lights or sound equipment as the Watershed had the correct technology available and plenty of lights to choose from. Compass Presents were also able to lend us a few lights and we were able to borrow some pieces like the telecommunication system, which came with the necessary cabling and cameras so we would not have to pay for external equipment.

Costumes the stewards were asked to provide by wearing white shirts and smart trousers and shoes, although we did have to pay for about twenty-odd red bow-ties. The dresses for the twins J was able to find in a second hand charity store and the male actors and magicians in residences were able to provide their own clothes.

Music did cost a bit more than expected to purchase for use, but overall the most we had to spend was on fees for the talent.

Health and Safety:

Me at the Watershed’s Health and Safety Workshop with the rest of the Future Producers. I watch attentively and make notes on something I don’t realize I will be in control of soon enough!: h and s workshop

In terms of Health and Safety for the Shining event, I had been present during the Watershed’s Health and Safety workshop during our Future Producers sessions and after taking control of Health and Safety I consulted the Health and Safety Executive government website. I then spent time listing out the potential threats in each different room/space indoors and outdoors that could harm or injury our audience, the public, the Watershed team and ourselves during the course of the night.


The main concerns I noted related to basic health and safety issues such as trip hazards, overcrowding and fire hazards/access and my the notes later would form the basis of our event risk assessment. Later also when I took charge of our technical needs and helped strip down our lighting requirements to a minimum in order to create a darker, more brooding emotional mood within the Watershed’s spaces this also minimized the risk posed by lighting and electronical equipment. However, the obvious issues related to the dimness of lighting were noted and the lighting levels of the spaces and lighting used around potential trip hazards such as our tricycle in a far corner where placed out of the way and were well-lit.

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Planning for What Could Have Gone Wrong:

As a team after the BFI approved of our intended Season the main problems we faced was trying to organise and pay for external talent for the event, the photographer, the actors to perform during the pre-screening drinks and organising a band/musicians and dancers for the after-screening party.

Flo was able to secure actors by contacting some of her friends instead of using some more expensive options from a dance and theatre company she had been in contact with.

Yet in the run-up to the event Tara and Charlie, our two mentors from Compass Present had been trying to help us organise for a swing band to play for us after the screening in the Watershed’s cafe bar area. We were not able to offer them as much money as they asked for and in the end we had to go to our back-up plan of playing for the after-screening party a playlist of music Varun had created and Flo was able to acquire some swing dancers from a Bristol-based dance class to perform during this period to provide an extra attraction for the event.

Individually, while organising the technical requirements for the event I had to co-ordinate with Tara from Compass Presents and Ewan, the Projection (technical) Team Manager for the Watershed to simplify our original lighting requirements after discovered that a lot of the types of lights we needed were already in place in the Waterside rooms.

I also had to pose to the rest of the team the potential issue that we might not have been allowed to use Compass Presents’s telecommunication machine due to concern that we would not be able to have a suitable place where we could safety run wires between rooms in the building. However, after putting Tara and Charlie in touch with Ewan and discovering the length and thickness of the cables this crisis was averted.


Both myself and Zoe meet to discuss how we would evaluate the success of our event and evaluate whether the how the production process up to that point and the way we had divided up responsibilities amongst the group had been effective.

During this meeting we applied the method we had learnt from Glow Consultant’s Lycia Harper from one of our Future Producer’s workshops, The Story of Change, to decide on behalf of the entire team what how story was and decide who and what were our main beneficiaries and those involved in the production process, including ourselves as a team, our audience, members of the Watershed staff who we worked with and external actors and stewards who took part in the event.

Through creating a list of short questions for each of these groups we felt we would be able to gain feedback that would help the Watershed understand and decide if an event such as an immersive cinema screening could be a potential attraction for non-Watershed attenders between 18-25 and also for ourselves to evaluate and get feedback from all those different individuals who worked with us so we would have feedback on our performances for future event planning.

In the end, however, due to time constraints and realizing that realistically we would not be able to get enough appropriate feedback from every individual who worked with us to produce the project given their busy schedules, we made the choice to focus more on gaining feedback from the audience.

Feedback from the audience was collected through evaluation sheets handed out at the end of the late-night screenings and more event-orientated and related questionnaires were given to audience members to fill in after the Shining Immersive event. We also intended to gain feedback on the night by having a guest book for audience members to sign and where they could put down their un-directed thoughts and feelings about their stay at our version of the Overlook Hotel and through monitoring social media comments on the event’s Facebook page and using Twitter hashtags.

A section of our notes on how we would evaluate our own actions. This went into an email that went unanswered by many of us due to time constraints, other commitments and general lack of time WP_000249

Data collected by the Watershed after the event from social networking sources, questionaires and our guestbook.

In Part 2 I discuss more about my personal opinions and feelings towards the event, how I felt my leadership skills within the group more specifically came into play and how on the night and since I have learnt that taking a leading role within a production does not have to always be about controlling all parts of the project and how compromise is important.

Unit 1 Part B: Get Involved in the Arts World

Over two Saturdays in September, in order to develop my knowledge of the process of filmmaking as well as to oversee the techniques of a professional director, I trained for 2 days as part of the crew for Mark McGann’s Screen-Acting Masterclasses. Such Masterclasses are produced by his company, Drama Direct.

I have had the fortune of working with Mark in the past, having originally come into contact through his Screen-Acting Masterclasses as an actress, and then as an actress through his Stage-Acting Masterclasses, so it was brilliant to view the creative process from the perspective of the crew. As someone who is keen to enter into the fields of directing and film-making professionally, it was an invaluable experience to work with someone who has had many years of experience in the film, television and theatrical worlds, as both an actor and director.

The first session, on September 14th, took place in a private house in London, while the second took place in the Merlin Theatre in Frome on September 21st. Both venues were brilliant spaces to film in with regards to their flexibility of the setting they could create; for example, the bar of the Merlin Theatre was transformed into the watering hole of high-flying ad-men for a scene from Mad Men, while a small dining room of the London house became a psychiatrist’s office for a scene from Girl, Interrupted.

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Both sessions revealed the patience, coordination and stamina required for the time-consuming process of filming, from setting up the shot to perfecting the continuity of each take. However, it was fascinating to participate in the creative process of film-making from a technical perspective rather than that of an actor. Indeed, being able to use a professional-grade camera and lighting was a fantastic practical experience; learning how to position the camera appropriate for the shot, how to ensure the subject is in focus, as well as how to set up lighting.

The experience also highlighted the qualities needed for a good film director. Mark demonstrated the calm, confidence and ingenuity required of a film director, for such a position not only requires a good technical understanding of lighting and camera work, but also a high standard of efficiency and communication skills. A director has to co-ordinate both the technical team and the on-screen actors involved in order to create a successful and functioning piece of film. As well as this, the director has to be supportive of the entire filming team, from tech crew to actors, offering actors advice on how to perform their scenes while also potentially offering emotional support to boost an actor’s confidence. In all, Mark demonstrated how complex, yet satisfying a job directing is, for if a project is a success, a director can feel a great sense of accomplishment in their hard work having paid off.

Not only did I really enjoy working for Mark, who is a hugely generous and supportive person, these sessions really benefited the practical knowledge needed to create my Cinekids Artwork, and will of course aid any of my future endeavors in filmmaking.

Here is a quote from Mark McGann concerning my involvement in the Masterclasses:

Alexandra is a creative practitioner of exceptional promise. On different occasions she has participated and assisted delivery of both Drama Direct’s Professional Stage and Professional Screen Acting Workshops at quality venues, including theatres in London and Somerset. She has repeatedly displayed a keen cinematographic visual instinct when operating camera to shoot scenes with actors, and has a highly developed appreciation of the technical and artistic requirements of the professional working film set.

 A talented stage actress and popular company member, I also sincerely believe that she would be a significant asset to any theatre company.

Unit 2: Arts Leadership. BFI Gothic Season #3

Late Night Screenings
November was soon on my team’s doorstep, and our season opened with a late night screening of Hausu along with a live musical performance by the Hellfire Video Club DJs. Our following late night Friday screenings of Repulsion and Suspiria were also successful, selling over 40 tickets for all 3 screenings, but our main focus was upon the success of the immersive event, as this was the first of this kind of event to be hosted at the Watershed; it was therefore important that such an event should meet expectations.

The Night of the Immersive Event
The day of the immersive event, November 29th, finally came, and I was able to travel down from Warwick University to help the team set up the spaces for the night’s event. Dressing the Waterside buildings was extremely fun and hard work, and it was fascinating to see how a space could transform with only a few props and pieces of furniture. I took it upon myself to cut up and organize the positioning of the black and white photos J had sourced and formatted. I was concious of trying to replicate the use of black and white photos displayed in the Overlook within the film of The Shining by attaching the photos in neat rows on white spaces of wall; mainly on the walls in our largest space, W3, and the corridor through which the audience would first enter the inside of the building. This would allow a sense of character to the building by giving it a sense of history and celebrity; indeed, as the event commenced, I noticed members of the audience studying the photos. I also helped in positioning furniture, such as two sofas in W3, and chairs for the audience of the Doctor (one of the Watershed’s resident magicians) in W1, and Jack Torrance’s writing desk materials in W2. For the sofas in W3 in particular, I decorated the white rug upon which the two sofas would be set up with blood stains, attempting to create a realistic blood pool and blood spatter using fake blood. This setting up of the space certainly got me in the mood for the evening’s spooky events!

As darkness approached, the team, volunteers, and members of the Watershed staff who had very kindly offered to help us in the running of the evening’s event changed into our costumes; white shirts, black trousers and red bow ties, to emulate the figure ghostly figure of the waiter Grady in the film. Zoe then gave us a group briefing on the proceedings of the night, as well as direction in how we, acting as members of the Overlook Hotel staff, were to react to the audience; we as the Gothic Season team had decided that the staff should be cold and reasonably hostile to the audience to maintain the atmosphere of creepy isolation and antagonistic influence of the Overlook Hotel.

I was tasked with staffing W2, where our performer as Jack Torrance was set up to type away at his writing desk, and who would become increasingly deranged and erratic throughout the course of the night. I was to keep an eye on the performer to check if he needed any refreshment at any point, as well as to ensure the audience didn’t behave inappropriately with him.

Thus, the evening began and continued without major incident or hiccups. I enjoyed watching the actor who portrayed Jack performing and interacting the audience; seeing how the audience reacted in alarm to his increasingly unhinged state. It was a really great experience to see my and the teams’ ideas finally come together and actually function as a live event.

Finally, at 11pm, the audience began to file into the screening of the The Shining, being treated to an immersive feature of female twins in blue dresses standing back-lit at the end of the corridor where the cinema screens are located (one of whom was portrayed by our fellow Future Producer, Amy Draper). This was just another unnerving little feature for the audience to get in the mood for the film.

shining event twins

During the screening, the team and I were able to begin clearing and tidying up the Waterside spaces, which would be closed off to members of the public after the screening. We also began preparing the Cafe/Bar by transforming it into the Gold Room; the ballroom in which the spirits of the hotel influence Jack to kill his family in the film. The Cafe/Bar would be the space where the audience could have a drink before the end of the event, relax and discuss their experience, and collect their belongings from the temporary cloakroom we had set up. The post-screening experience in the Cafe/Bar would also be the opportunity for us to gain feedback from the audience through the feedback forms that we had compiled; which included questions concerning the audience members’ age, how they heard about the event, whether they live in the Bristol area, what they particularly enjoyed about the event, what they would improve, whether they were new to the Watershed, and whether they would come again.

Feedback and Evaluation
As the screening finished, and the audience entered our transformed Gold Room, I headed up collecting feedback from audience members with the great help of fellow Future Producer, Hannah. Such feedback was later correlated by the Watershed, and demonstrated that the night was successful in its entertainment value, and in an important aim of our brief; that our audience would be keen to return to the Watershed for other events and screenings.

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Experiences Gained and Lessons Learned
This whole experience of organizing an immersive cinematic event along with a season of films, and bringing such a project to fruition was a truly fantastic experience for me. Working with professional artists as well as with a prestigious cinema and artistic space such as the Watershed was a real privilege, and I now feel I have more confidence in collaborating with professionals I could otherwise have found intimidating. I really enjoyed focusing upon the aspect of online promotion, and such experience has since been useful during my second year at Warwick University, where I have become a volunteer for the marketing department (a Student Arts Representative) of the Warwick Arts Centre, specifically targeting marketing for the student population which predominantly includes online promotion. Indeed, if I were to change anything about my participation in the event, I would like to have explored the effectiveness of online promotion more comprehensively, liaising more with the Watershed’s Communications department to gain more experience and knowledge of effective online promotion. Seeing the process of how such a big event as an immersive cinema event can be successfully achieved has made me more confident to take up leadership roles within the arts, such as that of a director and producer. Indeed, as a testament to this experience, I am about to direct my first play at university, and I feel that the skills and knowledge gained from organizing the BFI Gothic Season events at the Watershed have put me in good stead to make my production, in all aspects from tech, to promotion, to the quality of performances, a success.

Unit 2: Arts Leadership. BFI Gothic Season #2

Deciding Upon the Events of the Immersive Event
Though we had decided as a group what our specific roles and responsibilities would be for the project, we were all to collaborate in deciding the series of events that would take place during the immersive event. After having been shown around the areas of the building where we could mainly host the event (Watersides 1, 2 and 3), as well as the main building’s facilities such as the Cafe/Bar, as well as the different entrances to the building (such as the fire exit that leads to the back of the building), it was decided by myself and the team to compile our individual thoughts on the flow of the evening before creating a single document that incorporated elements that correlated with many of the teams’ ideas.

the shining ideas doc

From this basic outline of ideas we wished to achieve, we were able to hone and pin-down our ideas that could be achievable goals with the help of advice given by the Ops team at the Watershed, and our project’s creative partner Compass Presents. We were thus able to specifically allocate rooms for certain events, such as W2 as the Colorado Lounge where we would have a performer portraying Jack Torrance typing at his writing desk, and W3 as the main event space where a photo booth would be set up and an intercom system which would allow the audience to interact with a performer on the other end of the intercom. Certain changes and alterations were inevitably made along the way due to health and safety, and practicality issues, such as alterations to the point by which the audience would enter the building; we had at one point considered using the goods lift, due to the lift in The Shining being an iconic feature of the film, but this was changed to the back entrance of the building. Our meeting with the Ops teams of the Watershed enabled us to further focus on what we were able and unable to do during the event, and we allocated a day’s run-through to ensure that the planned flow of the evening would function as we wished it to.

Within this plan for the evening’s events, we had made contingencies for possible issues that could arise during the event. In order to ensure the safety of the performers as well as the comfort of the audience, we planned to have voluntary attendants in each function room of the event, to oversee the rooms and make sure that both the audience and performers were happy. As well as this, we decided to employ a bouncer at the entrance of the event (the fire exit of the building), due to the fact that it would be taking place late on a Friday night. We also took into consideration the possibility of a fire alarm occurring during the event, and while the Future Producers team heading up the event could not take control of such a situation as we are considered members of the public, we ensured that members of staff of the Watershed would be involved in the evening who could take charge of such a situation, however unlikely it was to occur.

Health and Safety Considerations
Health and safety for the event was taken into consideration and headed up by my Gothic Season team member, James, and a comprehensive risk assessment for the event was formulated and revised.


Unit 2: Arts Leadership. BFI Gothic Season #1

These past months have been very busy and exciting for the Gothic Season team, of which I was a part. November finally saw our project come to fruition with a series of 3 late night Friday screenings, and an immersive cinema event hosted by the Watershed at the end of the month. Such events were made possible by funding provided by the BFI for events connected to their Gothic Season to be hosted by the Watershed.

The Brief
Our initial brief for the project was to ‘create an immersive Dark Arts cinema event at the end of November. Through the event we want to appeal to and engage 18-25 year olds who would not normally attend Watershed’ as a part of the nationwide celebrations for the BFI Gothic Season. This brief since expanded to include a series of late night screenings of Gothic films, leading up to an immersive cinema event.

Deciding Upon the Programme of Films
As our experience with this year’s FreshFlix programme for the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival proved, selecting a programme of films can be a challenging and time-consuming process. Initially, the group and I bandied around various Gothic film suggestions of ranging tone and content, with the original intention of maintaining the BFI Gothic Season’s umbrella theme for the month of November; Dark Arts. However, as we delved into films concerning witchcraft and the occult, such as the classic The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Babyit became apparent that there were few films that would truly lend itself to an immersive event hosted in the ex-warehouse setting of the Watershed building. The decision was thus made by myself and the group to broaden our field of Gothic films beyond the confines of the Dark Arts, and it soon became apparent that selecting a choice of four films (3 for late night Friday screenings, and 1 for the immersive event) amongst a team of such a large size was more strenuous and time consuming than it needed to be. I therefore took on the task, along with fellow Gothic Season team mates Varun and J, of selecting our final programme.

Our most important and key decision was in choosing the film that would inspire and feature in our immersive event. My fellow team mates and I felt this film would set the tone for the films that would feature in the late night Friday screenings leading up to the event at the end of November. As a whole group, we decided upon Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, a choice that I was immensely happy with. I felt that such an atmospheric film with the iconic setting of the Overlook Hotel would be perfect for an immersive event within the Watershed building, with plenty of scope within the film’s plot that could be used as immersive features and performances during the event.

With The Shining in mind, it became a somewhat more guided task in selecting the 3 films that would lead up to the immersive event, as I was keen to have a programme that explored the various themes in The Shining such as isolation, claustrophobia, psychological and physical haunting. After much deliberation, Varun, J and I decided upon the classic Japanese horror film Hausu, Roman Polanski’s disturbing psychological drama Repulsion, and Dario Argento’s iconic Suspiria. Such a cinematic selection adhered to my hopes for the programme, as well as being unusual enough films that would draw movie fans to the cinema, rather than films that audiences may already own on DVD.

Our Roles Within the Team
With the programme of films selected, the team was able to move forward with the project. At this point, we were able to more clearly define roles for individual members of the group that would work to their existing strengths while at the same time broadening their experience. Roles within the group were as follows:

  • Zoe Horn-Haywood: Project Manager, Marketing Visuals and Evaluation Planning
  • Florence Fitzgerald: Artistic Liaison and Character Developer (providing briefs on the roles of performers).
  • Varun Raman: Liaison with professional musicians and sound manager.
  • James Staynings: Head of Health and Safety assessments for the events.
  • J Gibbs: Budget and Props Manager.

Due to my commitments at university (University of Warwick), and the difficulty in frequently travelling from Coventry to Bristol, I chose to take up the role of developing and producing online promotion for the events, particularly for The Shining immersive event. Promotion and advertising is somewhat of an interest of mine, and as someone who is a keen writer (mainly of prose), I was keen explore the writing style of promotional copy and how this differs from my usual writing style. I was intrigued to see how promotion can function, not only as a tool for selling tickets, but as a tool for social media interaction and garnering wider awareness amongst the general public of what the Watershed can do.

Unit 1 Part C: Research and Review Advanced Arts Practitioners #3

On December 21st, 2013, I was lucky enough to see the RSC’s production of Richard II at the Barbican. Seeing such a prestigious production of one of William Shakespeare’s great History plays was a truly fantastic experience!

richard ii program and ticket

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is probably one of the most internationally famous theatre companies, having an extensive repertoire of celebrated and iconic creative works throughout it’s over 50 year history. I have seen productions performed by the RSC previous to Richard II, having seen Romeo and Juliet at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2009. However, seeing an RSC production in London on an end-on stage, as opposed to the thrust stages of the Swan and Royal Shakespeare Theatres in Stratford, was an interesting and enjoyable experience.

David Tennant, starring as the eponymous role of King Richard II, was captivating and enigmatic in his effeminate, eccentric, divine and immaturely petulant take on the once child king. He was a king who affirmed his divine right to rule not by balanced wisdom or even majestic strength, but through lavish imagery. Tennant’s costumes transformed him into a living jewel, as though he were some earthbound angel, confirming his majesty and power through symbolism as opposed to tangible action. Tennant was a Richard who existed with his head arrogantly located amongst the clouds, being distant and cold to his most important advisers, allies, and family, instead preferring to indulge in the flattery of Bushy, Bagot and Green; one had the distinct sense here of a spoilt child being pandered to by indulgent parents. Yet, when Richard’s world comes crashing down around him as rebellion ignites, led by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, Tennant transformed the proud king into a crumpled little boy, clawing at the soil to which he is sovereign. Tennant’s was a Richard who was flamboyant and arrogant, proud and petulant, and, above all, fascinating to watch.

However, despite generally impressive performances from most of the cast, though I admittedly felt uninspired by Nigel Lindsay’s blandly rock-steady Bolingbroke, it was the production’s set and use of live music that truly fascinated and inspired me. The production was interlaced by use of musical compositions of brass and choral music, with three brass musicians set on a balcony stage right, and three female singers set on a balcony stage left; directly opposite the brass musicians. Such music, with the brass producing frequent fanfares, and the three girls singing ecclesiastical, choral arrangements, created a sense of medieval regality while also incorporating the medieval ideas of monarchy’s connection with the divine, as well as hinting towards the real Richard’s promotion and appreciation of the arts. Such effectively beautiful and atmospheric music informed my arts practice in the sense that live music can be incorporated into live performances in such a way that enhances the drama rather than distracting from it. Depending on one’s intentions as a director as to the desired impact of the music, seeing this use of live performed music allowed me to consider the collaboration between actors, directors and musicians in order to create a single, affecting and successful production.

The set for this production of Richard II was also particularly fascinating to me. Rather than conventional painted sets or physical set pieces, this production used projected images, projected onto what appeared to be curtain-wings of fine chains. This very effectively created realistic settings that were yet made three dimensional by the unusual chain curtains; for example, the court scenes had projections of a vaulted stone building, with the staggered curtains giving the effect of depth to the projection, while the fan-vaulting and Gothic pillars of the building setting were clearly visible. It was a real marvel to see, as the set did not distract from the action, and yet added a historical, ghost-like quality to the performance, perhaps hinting  to the issue of Bolingbroke being haunted by Richard’s murder at the end of the play (a haunting guilt which manifests itself in Shakespeare’s Henry IV parts 1 and 2). This style of set informed my arts practice by opening my mind to new and innovative ways of creating sets within theatre spaces. With new developments in the use of projection, such as projection mapping (as seen on Buckingham Palace during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations), seeing such artistry in use has allowed me to consider further how sets can be created for a theatre production, and what artistic impact this has upon the intentions of the play. Indeed, modern technology is not at all out of place in the space of a theatre, and can indeed create wonderful, fascinating and moving creative pieces within such a space, as the set of Richard II proved.

Stuck In The Mud- Unit 1 Part C

gdanceGdance is a production and training company specialising in inclusive practice based in Gloucester. Their latest production ‘Stuck In the mud’ is a promenade performance combining community and professional dancers.


I originally attended the production at BlackFriars in Gloucester. I am interested in promenade performance and wanted to find out how this was achieved in a dance production. Blackfriars was a great setting as it really added to the atmosphere and had lovely outside space as well as inside. I did learn that using exterior spaces in Autumn can cause difficulties though.

The performance was fantastic and I really love the inclusive aspect of the work. I decided I wanted to learn a lot more about inclusive work and so volunteered on the next production of ‘Stuck in the mud’ at Newport market. The performances took place, at times, when the market was open so it was fantastic to see the interaction between the general public and the dancers. The feedback showed that it really opened people’s minds to disabled performers, which I think is a great aim of the production.

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Whilst volunteering I got to know the team at Gdance and found them all very inspiring. I was particularly inspired by the producer Helen Crocker who has a background in Circus, being a founder of ‘Circomedia’ circus school in Bristol. I really enjoyed seeing how she worked and was eager to learn as much as I could from her.


This volunteering experience made me even more interested in the work of GDance and inclusive work so I asked if there were any further opportunities to be involved. They offered me the chance to undertake a producing fellowship with them where I shall have the opportunity to learn more about their work and the work of a producer. I am hugely excited to get started and feel this experience could have a major impact on my future career.


Ausform- Unit 1 Part C



Ausform is an independent ideas-led producing company based in Bristol, promoting and presenting new circus and unusual theatre. They run a bi-annual platform for new performance, including both work in progress pieces and fully finished work. They aim to meet new artists with new audiences so show work that hasn’t been performed in Bristol before.


I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer with Ausform on their November platform/”microfest”. I was looking for opportunities to network with other circus/performance enthusiasts in Bristol and just loved the idea of the platform.  The microfest took place over three days at two different venues. They set up a café at The Parlour Showrooms, which was a lovely space for people to come and socialise. I loved the idea of having a designated space where the audience could chat about the platform and meet the artists. The other venue used was The Cube Microplex where the triple bill of performances took place on the Friday night. The performances all happened to be female solo shows by artists of a similar age to me. It was very inspiring seeing these artists working hard to develop their practice and pursuing their passion for the arts. I thoroughly enjoyed all three shows, ‘Sounds and Guts’ by Tender Buttons, ‘Blow’ by Holy Bodmer and ‘Fox Solo’ by Foxy and Husk. The shows were in various stages of completion, which was particularly interesting to see. I am eager to keep up to date with the progression of the shows and hopefully see them again in the future.


Ausform was set up by Lina B Frank a Swedish Theatre Maker and Producer working in Bristol. She has a background in Design and is heavily involved in various circus projects so I’ve found her career particularly interesting. Lina runs the platform with the help of Hannah Sullivan and various volunteers. I found both Lina and Hannah hugely inspiring and thoroughly enjoyed being able to ask them about their own career development. The whole Ausform experience really helped confirm my interest in producing, especially in the circus and experimental theatre realm. I would love to run a similar project to Ausform outside of Bristol. I am very much looking forward to the next microfest and will hopefully have the opportunity to be involved again in some way.

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Gothic ‘The Shining’- Unit 2 #5



After the event we handed out evaluation forms to gain feedback from the audience. It was fantastic to hear that people enjoyed the event, with 83% of people saying their experience was “Brilliant”. It was also interesting to see how we could have improved the event, with a number of people saying extra bar staff would have helped. We were really aiming for new audiences and although the number wasn’t as high as I’d hoped we did have 14% of first time visitors to Watershed. The majority of our audience were between the ages of 18 and 34 so we did managed to bring in a slightly younger crowd. I was so pleased with the positive feedback as it made all the time and effort worthwhile.

The feedback helped highlight to me areas that need to be considered when planning an event for instance, the correct number of staff/ushers can really make the difference to the smooth running of an event. On the whole though there wouldn’t be a huge amount I would change about the event.

Shining Analysis_Page 1

Shining Analysis_Page 2

I think I completed my role quite effectively. I managed to obtain all of the props and costumes we wanted within our budget. I had been worried previously that the rooms would look sparse but I thought they all worked very well. I was particularly pleased with our “Hotel Lobby” space in W3. After all of our planning it was fantastic to see it full of people and them enjoying their surroundings.

I have learnt so much from this project and know many aspects from this will help in my future work. At times working in a group had it’s difficulties but on the whole I think we worked excellently together and delegated tasks very efficiently. I have definitely learnt to be more confident in my abilities and would feel much happier in a leadership role in the future. I’ve learnt that remaining upbeat and enthusiastic is an important quality when leading as it keeps the rest of the team motivated.

Communication has been confusing at times due to the amount of people involved but other members of the group have introduced me to ways of making this easier for example doodle and google docs. These are definitely things I will continue to use. I feel I have become much more organised, which I have learnt is very much a necessity when planning an event.

I really liked how diverse our groups backgrounds were and feel I have learnt so much from each of them. It was useful to each have our different areas that we led on but still be able to work together on the whole and assist each other when we were having problems. I hope the other members of the team enjoyed working with me as much as I did with them.


Gothic ‘The Shining’- Unit 2 #4

The Shining event seemed to be a real success. I felt we were pretty prepared beforehand but was still very nervous. The space looked even better than I was expecting and all the last minute touches really came together. We arrived hours in advance just to ensure we would be able to sort any problems if they arose. Everything ran very smoothly though. We began by bringing all of our equipment and props down to the main room and then I organised them all so they were ready to go into the other rooms once we had access to them. Zoe printed all of the signage she had designed and the vintage photographs and then Alex and I put them up around the space. As we had plenty of free time we went and got some extra props for free, like spare suitcases to decorate the cloakroom, just to ensure we had enough. When we had access to the other rooms i started to dress these whilst the tech team began setting the lights up. At times it was difficult setting up the spaces with the general public in the building but I think we worked around it quite well. Once the ushers all showed up we ran through with them what their roles would be and how they should act. Flo met all of the actors and briefed them. I then handed out all of the costumes and helped people get ready. During the event I worked on the cloakroom so was able to interact with the audience, which I really enjoyed. It was absolutely fantastic watching the audience explore the space and interact with the actors. All of the ushers and actors were brilliant and really listened to what we had asked them to do.

In the main space we had different elements for the audience to interact with like an old radio system, so the audience could talk to an actor on the other end and a Photobooth area with props in keeping with The Shining theme. All of these elements seem to be go down really well with the audience. The bar was also very successful, especially the drinks promotions and red rum cocktails that we had decided to incorporate into the menu.

CloudFileHandler.ashx CloudFileHandler-1.ashx

During the event there were luckily no disasters. We had a few hiccups with ticket allocation but this was all sorted quickly and easily. I was so pleased that we had allocated roles efficiently so we all knew exactly what we were supposed to be doing and when. I have definitely learnt that rehearsals are always helpful and am really pleased that we had had a couple running up to the event.

I am really looking forward to looking over the evaluation forms from the audience. So far we seem to have great feedback on social media.

Cine-K.I.D.S (Keeping it Dead Simple) (Unit A Part 1, 2 and 3)

Of all the tasks set as part of the Future Producers Plus scheme the Cinekids promotional material challenge has been the most difficult brief to work on. It’s challenged me to outside my comfort zone with new (and expensive) equipment, to confront an audience (kids) that partly terrify me and made me consider how I can adapt my writing skills into unfamiliar genres and environments. Along with issues related to producing my mock promotional material due to circumstances that had not planned for also meant my plans like the best-laid plans.

But from the start I knew and have mentioned before this brief would be a challenge, to combine my primary art-form of writing with a more visual art-form like film . Especially given my first concept for the promotional material being ‘a picture worth a 1,000 words’,(as discussed in a previous blog, (Never Work with Animals or Children: Cinekids Challenge (Unit 1 A Part 2)) using my promo material to showcase how other mediums present story-telling in a way that captures imagination and brings to mind the words and emotional that we feel through stories and dialogue that we experience, whether through watching, listening or reading.

But due to time constraints, lack of technical skill (and confidence) and a desire to make my promotional material effective and the best it could be by keeping the concept and material itself dead simple, I changed my secondary art-form from film to another visual medium, photography. An art-form I have been interested in since A Level, which I never had the confidence or patience to take up before. An art-form I also felt would allow me to me to use still images, snap shots in of a single moment, to explore how children’s films, like books encourage kids to learn and gain skills, knowledge and ideas that are used throughout life.

With still images and information and my writing attached I also retained the flexibility to make my promotional material available for use both online and in creating posters, leaflets or flyers that would promote the Watershed’s Cinekids program. I also felt that with single snap-shots I would be able to better use my directional skills to help build layers of ideas and meaning into ‘a picture worth a 1,000 words’ concept.

Something I had explored before as a director at university I did have a hand in creating the concept for a photograph that was used for the publicity posters and flyers for my first feature length play, Stand Up and Jump, which consisted of me stood on a ledge looking down at the road below…with a little help from photoshop and a photographer who knew what he was doing. The finished product, (the picture below), blew me away and I instantly fell in love with as the image captured multiple feelings and layers that I wanted the play’s poster to portray and that featured within the performance itself from a sense of fear and anxiety to the main characters sense of un-reality of their situation. I had created the concept, but the director in me wanted to know how to create and ‘direct’ that kind of image all by myself.


This is one of the few snaps that I took at the photography workshop that I felt happy with as I was able to keep the camera steady, get the right amount of focus for the shot and most importantly I did not stick my finger near the lens! Overall I created and perfectly shot the picture that I wanted to shot!

The workshop Louise ran was extremely useful in learning the basics of how a camera works and how you can create different lighting and visual effects. The different factors that affect a photograph from the focus, the ISO of the film, shutter speed and the aperture, along with my questions to Louise about different lens and shot types made me want to learn more, but for my project I decided to I would have to experiment with more complicated ideas at another time.

Here’s me stood with a camera during the practical part of Louise’s photography workshop… I am possibly looking at a seagull and considering whether to take a snap of it.

Here is a photograph of the technical basics that you need to know about working a camera with some of my notes scribbled on it.
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After the workshop I consulted Claire, our Gold Arts Award leader and other Future Producers about how I could potentially streamline and effectively present my idea of how writing and images as mediums look at engaging audiences in stories, generating emotional responses and discussion and help kids of all ages understand the world they live in, thereby helping them to form their own thoughts and opinions. I decided to present both these art forms side-by-side rather than trying to find a way to present the two together in a still image.

I.e. the idea I had conceived before trying to simplify my idea had been to students that I work with pose for a picture recreating a famous scenes from children’s movies, like the famous scene from the Lion King (picture below). Behind these figures who would not be wearing costume or have props and with a black background, would be super-imposed words either added in the editing phrase or stuck on the black background, adjectives, phrases and ideas that came to them when they re-watched the original scene.

lion king

An early version of my notes for the refined version of my promotional material with a picture on one side with the story on another.
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I felt this idea would allow me to use the basic photography skills I had used, as well as employing some editorial tricks that I had learn through discussing photography with Louise and through some of my friends who do photography. I also felt that the promotional material in part a game, as the scenes, to some degree not instantly recognizable with words surrounding the scene could allow parents and children to try and guess which film it was from. I also felt the idea also provided scope for expanding the draft promotional material into a series of pieces which could form and be a kind of game for parents and their kids both online and in the paper copies of the material.
Yet this they, like I, felt that there would be too much going on within the images and would not effectively promote the message I wanted parents to see.

So instead I decided that I would continue using the idea of students from my school, (who might look like the children of Cinekids potential audience), posing from dramatic scenes out of famous children’s film with a short story accompanying the images that would give clues to the reader about what film it was from and the situation shown. Both the image and the short story would also be inspired and would central around a profound piece of almost philosophical or adult like dialogue from the selected film.

This would also still keep another element of the concept for the pictures in that the way the subjects are represented, the audience may be surprised to know that the scene portrayed and the quote used from something more mature and perhaps more theatrical than a children’s film. Again the idea of this to show parents how like other art forms like theatre, film can move and educate people of all ages in a way that encourages free thinking.

For my draft promotional material piece I choose to write a story story and shoot a famous scene from one of the most successful children’s films of the recent century…Finding Nemo, using in particular these lines as inspiration:


However, there was a snag in my plan…

As although on the day that I intended to do the photo-shoot as part of the Drama Club warm-up game, there were last minute complications. The parental permission forms I had used were not valid due to an unexpected oversight. With a week to go before I had to present my promotional material to the Watershed team and the other Future Producers this caused me a big set-back and unfortunately I was not able to get the revised parental consent forms to parents in time. Instead I had to do a last minute photo-shoot creating the above scene with two of my co-workers…during our morning coffee break and with both students and staff looking on curiously.

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Given the limited amount of time we had, the weird looks we received from onlookers and the pressure to get these pictures sorted in 15 minutes… I kind of like these shots. Although there are definitely not the best technical shots, I was happy with the way my subjects responded to my direction and do feel that to some degree, the photos all show in some form or another the ambiguous themes of a relationship between the two characters and a sense of love and potential loss that does generate an emotional response.

Similarly, despite some issues with making sure the short story I was able to draw on my experience of writing monologues to explore and outline the character of Dory’s feelings, both good and bad in the scene. Perhaps not in a way that is completely kid friendly but parent friendly at the least.

a copy of my proto-type promotional leaflet:

When it came to presenting the prototype to the rest of the Watershed team and Future Producers, I was a mix of exhausted and nervous given my lateness from arriving late from my school’s parents evening. Overall the feedback I received from both the Watershed team and my other Future Producers was that the concept did work and that the ideas for how to further market the material both on and offline as a series of pieces and a guessing game did interest them. Yet there were other pieces of promo material the other Future Producers created that I believed were much simpler and in terms of production, easier to market and produce on a more cost-effective basis.

On reflection, I do feel that with more time and with the right resources I would have been able to more properly shot the shots I wanted, but given that I have been able to try this new art form and experiment with basic technical aspects of photography and gained more confidence using a photography camera while be stared at, something that I would have previously struggled with. I would like to continue to learn more about photography and take advantage of the camera equipment I posses on my mobile and other devices to take more artistic photos and to experiment with different camera angles, light and editing effects.

When I write short plays and come up with concepts for different types of work I generally also find myself with ideas for posters and book covers in my head and through photography I might find another creative outlet to indulge in. As for writing for kids In terms of writing for kids in the future I am open to the possibility and I have had ideas in the past about creating a fantasy-eque fairy-tell story that could easily work as a piece of interactive theatre, but for the moment I think I will be sticking to what I know best with my writing. A more grown-up and uniquely damaged yet beautiful view of the world.
The most difficult part of this brief was coming up with the concept that was simple enough and effective, rather than actual production of the work that did not on either account take long.

I think from my stand-point when it comes to my primary art form of writing, the thing that interests me the most is how I can best explore a concept, message, theme or idea using words and was something that I felt throughout this process that I wanted to explore in a different way. For this project did conflict at times with the reason for creating this promotional material, to advertise and sell Cinekids workshops to parents. Instead I was focused more on exploring and combining the two art-forms by combining them.

In the future I may look to explore the possibility of overlapping words within the visual mediums of film and photography again, but in a different way. For the moment I think I will stick to exploring the world through writing and photography as separate art forms or art forms that co-exist next to each other.


Work Experience Done: Subject to Requirement (Unit 1 B Part 2 and Unit 1 C)

In a previous blog I said I wanted to gain a different perspective of how a production is created and get a chance to look at the more administrative and finical side of the creative process. I was lucky enough to find a role earlier this month working with Makeshift Wings Theatre, a new Bristol based company whose founder happened to have gone to university with my girlfriend and the writer of their production had lived with her a few years ago. Weird nepotistic connection aside I only was lucky that they were looking for someone marketing and publicity work to promote the Bristol run of their new asburdist work about identity, Subject to Requirement. Lucky for me I have done small bits of it before.

I had done some (clumsily and less-extensively) work on the marketing and publicity before while a part of last year’s Bristol Shakespeare Festival and before that when directing plays back at university I had to oversee, help and take part in promoting the plays. This time I took and found some useful advice on a blog by American theatre company Second Wind Theatre about how a professional company can look to promote their play in an effective, yet cost-free way that would take advantage of the web, local news and events publications and radio stations. Along with this I also looked to expand my knowledge of promotion via social media by using the contacts I had made over the last few years in the Bristol theatre scene to encourage word of mouth about the performance.

Makeshift Wings Artistic Director, Amy Bethan Evans comments on my work with the company:
James Satynings

However, I decided to make Makeshift Wings marketing and publicity future a lot easier by compiling a database on an Excel spreadsheet of phone numbers and email addresses of potential promotional contacts for the group to use to promote future productions. Additionally as well on the three nights of performance I also was involved overseeing a post-show Q and A session with the cast and crew, which I filmed on the second night of the show in the hope of editing and giving the footage back to Makeshift Wings to use for additional promotional material in the future. The footage however, was not usable in the end due to technical problems with the sound equipment.

In terms of time I spent a few hours each day in early September putting the initial database list together finding contact details about different promotional outlets, primarily phone numbers and email addresses. At times I found through my friendship groups helped me to directly contact the relevant people either over social media, like Facebook, or by telling them about me and the production. It kind helped me learn scarily how close I am to contacting people in positions of power in creative fields that I am want to be involved with. This I will especially remember in my future plans after the Future Producers. It also allowed me to test my people skills with people in a different way to my day job as a Teaching Assistant in that I was acting as a kind of sells person to sell the production’s worth.

About three-two weeks before the show I spent a lot of time going over and over again drafting the perfect introductory letter/email that accompany the attached promotional information about the company and play. The main things I gained from this was an appreciation for was the importance of making that all important first contact, whether it was by phone call or email to present myself and the production in the best light.

As a dyslexic, this was painful as I scanned the email three or four times to make sure I was addressing the right people, getting the information completely accurate and making sure I sold the play in the right light to the selected audience at that moment. I also found that while emailing responses that I had to double-check that I had attached the right attachments. I needed to as on more than one occasion I was so close to sending out a copy of the script to a reviewer.

Along with this came the persistence to continually figure out where the information I needed would be on the most trickiest of websites. It sounds easy spending time looking to find contact details on websites as you usually expect the details you need to be on the ‘contact’, ‘contact us’ or ‘about us’ pages. Surprising the lengths certain radio stations and publications will go to make it hard for you to update them about events you are running that might interest them made the job quite frustrating. It’s a skill that I can now do without thinking I can do almost mechanical without even thinking.

Probably the greatest things I gained was learning though from other people’s experiences, especially Makeshift Wings’ Artistic Director, Amy Bethan Evans, who I chose to interview as professional in a creative field that most interests me. Amy is a young Royal Court writer who is an actress, writer and producer who’s response to my question about the difficulties in setting up your own theatre company surprised me. She started the company because she wanted to produce and have her own work performed and that her experiences with other theatre companies meant that setting up Makeshift Wings was not as difficult as I would have expected it to be!

The video for our interview can be found here!

Similarly also David Lewis, Subject to Requirement‘s writer, also helped me to also answered some unanswered questions in the back of my head related to my own desire to be be a playwright and producer.

From Amy the main thing that I took away from both meeting and talking to her on and off camera was the realization that I if I want to have my writing produced and even more importantly, if I want to produce it myself, I am capable of doing so. With Makeshift Wings she set up the company initially with the main purpose of producing her own play. The company’s survival and second production came about primarily due to her friendship and mentoring of David Lewis who she had promised to help get Subject to Requirement to the Edinburgh Fringe.

And while she described some of the hard problems she had doing it, her answer towards my question of what obstacles stood in her way were self-created. Although she noted the hardship with running the company by herself it has and continues to be a labour of love that has benefited from a mixture of luck, connections with the UWE Drama Society and a CV that has been built up over time on the basis of trying everything to get a foot in the door.

For David also as a writer he credited Amy wholeheartedly as the reason he is a writer and for helping to produce the play and fulfilling her promise to take the show to Edinburgh. What I have gained from talking and witnessing the connection between both of these writers and theatre-makers both behind the scenes and during the Q and A sessions I chaired was how their friendship and bond has helped define the play and the company at this stage of it’s life. Friends, contacts or those who support you can make the load a lot easier to carry and can help you put on a production.

What it has shown me about a potential career path as a writer within the theatre and as a professional who wants to run a theatre company is that the main things I need is the courage and the willingness to give the appropriate amount of time to such an endeavour to take the next step to produce my own work and create my own organisation. Likewise to involve my friends and call in favours from those who want to see me succeed.

Yet what my research on how to set up your own theatre company over the last few days has shown is that realistically, given my current plans to apply for teacher training for next year, if I do decide to set up a company in the foreseeable future there are a lot of things I will need to consider.

I have spent several hours over the last few days reading testimonies, advice articles and tips from those who have set up their own theatre companies at all levels from sites such as Creative-Choice, Ideastap, The Stage and a very useful website called StartATheatreCompany.com. The main influence and insight that I have gained from these sites has been about considering that to start a theatre company I need to consider its purpose, direction but also long-term how do I want the company to appear to others.

At it’s core I need to know what I want my company to be, its ethos in terms of what I showcase and if it will always be constant in terms of the types of theatre or plays it produces or if the company evolves what will consistently link each stage of development together in a way that does not take away from the groups history or alienate it’s target audience. I also need to consider how I deal with the balance between creating a theatre company for myself and own wants and consider the business aspects of it and the demands this creates for productions.

These sources of information, along wtih information I found on other websites like I Can Guide You, Gomito Productions and Red Table Theatre helped me to consider the business aspects of creating a theatre production company more so than the creative parts that of writing, directing and putting a production together that I love. At first this made me feel overwhelmed given all teh varies that need to be considered to create a successful theatre company. I have since learnt from working on the BFI Gothic season how even these aspects of theatre can used to showcase your creativity in terms of forging an image and path for your theatre company and something that can be shared out with those who you work closely with.

It guided my research to search up to see if any of the theatre-makers I have worked with in the past also had something to say about creating a theatre company and lead to me finding this article on the blog Is the Director Dead. I worked with Phillip last year on this same production of Alls Well That Ends Well and reading what he has to say about the ethos and his own drive behind own theatre company, Gentleman Jack, a company specialising in performing underperformed and under-loved plays has also helped to remind me that overall it is a passion and the drive to produce what you want to do that drives all aspects of managing a theatre company. Phillip is also a teacher, which is a career I also want, but he, like Amy who also has a full-time job, are still able to follow their passion for theatre and know the direction they want to take their companies.

I think my experiences working in theatre up to and beyond working with Makeshift Wings has helped me to learn that if I do want a career in teaching as well as theatre-maker, all I need to do is sit down, decide on my goals, the direction I want to move in, find some friends and backers and get to it. Yet for the moment, I am currently applying for a PGCE and at this moment my desire to be a teacher is more important and therefore starting my own theatre company, at least on a grand scale is not possible. But in terms of career development, I will continue to do what I am currently doing helping out on shows and productions when and where I can to gain experience and contacts and over time decide on what I would like to produce most with a theatre company.

In the meantime I can continue researching, writing down and fleshing out my thoughts on the theatre company I want to create and depending on circumstances, this experience has made me consider creating a small theate production of some of my short-plays which I could produce in the summer holidays. The idea of the production is based on a handful of pieces I have about relationships, entitled ‘Love and Other Venereal Diseases’, could allow me to put into practice all the skills, knowledge and contacts I have gained thus far in my theatrical career.

Got My Goat Presentations

As part of their Gold Arts Award the Future Producers had to make a presentation about an issue in the cultural or arts sector that was important to them to the rest of the group.

J Gibbs: The Reputation of Circus in Britain – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Louise Hobson: Cardiff needs to invest in Talent Development Programmes for Young People in the Arts – Future Producers, from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Amy Draper: My Case for supporting large scale art by city and town councils – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Roseanna Dias: Diversity in the arts & creative industries – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Lily Fannon: Unused spaces Wasted places – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Florence Fitzgerald: The Suffocation of Arts Education – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Zoe Horn Haywood: Unpaid internships – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Jenny Messenger: What’s Missing from Carlisle? “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Samuel Bailey: Theatre Funding – what happens to the little man? “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 201 from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Alex Ricou: Girls on Film – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Rosie Cooke: Creativity Theft – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Luke Tucker: Dubbing in Foreign Language Visual Media – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Nicola Wood: Historical Accuracy in Film and TV – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013 from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

James Staynings: We Don’t Need No Education – “Got My Goat” presentations, Future Producers, Watershed 2013 from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Cinekids Artwork

Those Future Producers doing the Gold Arts Award developed new arts skills as part of Unit 1 Part A. The Future Producers established what they thought was their primary art form (e.g. illustration/writing/acting) and then worked with one of the other Future Producers to develop a skill in another art form (e.g. filmmaking/animation/music). They responded to a brief to create an art piece to promote Watershed’s Cinekids, which engages the cinema audiences of tomorrow in films from across the world and gives children aged 6 -11 the opportunity to explore the stories they see on screen and the processes behind making movies.  The art piece needed to reflect childlike characteristics such as being playful, daring, adventurous, watchful, destructive and performative.

These are the presentation’s of the Future Producers Artwork

Alexandra Ricou: Filmmaking and Drama – Extend your own Arts practice, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Zoe Horn Haywood: Illustration & Graphic Design – Extend your own Arts practice, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Roseanna Dias: Illustration and Animation – Extend your own Arts practice, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

J Gibbs: Set Design and Printmaking – Extend your own Arts practice, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Florence Fitzgerald: Printmaking and Animation – Extend your own Arts practice, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

James Staynings: Drama and Photography – Extend your own Arts practice, Future Producers, Watershed 2013. from Watershed Bristol on Vimeo.

Gothic ‘The Shining’- Unit 2 #3

So The Shining event is almost upon us and I could not be more excited. I have been writing lists of everything I need to organise and am setting myself deadlines to ensure I am on top of things. As a group we are in very regular contact and I am helping to keep members of the group calm as the pressure is building.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 13.55.59

I have been keeping the budget up to date and we are still on track. Luckily everything has arrived in plenty of time and we only have a few last minute things to buy like cigarettes and paper.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 13.56.22

Some of the props and costumes have been more difficult to source than others, for instance I have been searching for a bear costume. I found a couple of masks but realised they would be too small for a man to wear. I did eventually find a bear mask and a fleece hoodie with ears and am hoping this will work effectively.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 14.18.46

I have found that asking around for different pieces rather than buying them has been useful. I had been looking for a door for a Photo Booth area we are going to have on the night and a member of staff at Watershed had one that she no longer wanted. This was brilliant as it meant we could easily arrange when to pick it up and we got it for free so could use the money assigned for that on other things. I also got a trike for free off a family member which was particularly useful as the others I had found were very expensive so we were possibly going to have to decide against having one. Now all I have to do is alter these slightly so they are appropriate, for example add A frames to the door so it stands upright and spray paint the trike a different colour.

I am pleased with all of the props and costumes and think they are all going to hugely add to the experience for the audience.

I have been planning when the set dressing will take place. Luckily we have plenty of time during the day before the event. There will be a change around in the bar area in the middle of the event but as this will be when the audience are in the cinema watching the film it will be ok. We will keep the doors closed to the bar so that if any audience members go to the toilet during the film they won’t be able to see the change around taking place.

Half of our group are going to be in the screening so they can watch the reactions of the audience. Some of the group shall start clearing up and Alex and I plan to be setting up the bar area. I am going to prepare a bag of different items we may need during the day for example scissors, blu tac, paper. I think this will help us work most effectively as we won’t be rushing around trying to find things all the time.

I am a little worried at the moment that we won’t have enough props and set pieces to fill the space but hopefully once the bar, cloak room and other elements have been set up it will look good. If it does feel a little sparce then we can use more tables and chairs which will add to the ‘Hotel lobby’ feel anyway.

Personal Reflection on Unit B Part 1

Invigilating at Wales in Venice, volunteering at G39 and attending the Curating Contemporary Performance course at Arnolfini have all, on some level, been about my gaining experience within the broader contemporary arts scene.  Up until last year when I graduated, my experiences were very focused within photography and as this is only one element of what I am interested in and wish to pursue, I have been looking for opportunities to experience and learn about contemporary art in the broadest sense.

It could be useful to note here that I applied to invigilate for Wales in Venice with a written application, followed by an interview and I applied for the Curating Contemporary Performance course at Arnolfini with a short text explaining why I wanted to attend. G39 was a little more relaxed, as volunteering opportunities usually are.  If you look at my blog posts, you will see that I have recorded my experiences in separate posts.

With regards to researching the organisations / roles etc, it was only really necessary for me to research for Wales in Venice (discussed in this blog post).  I was already familiar with g39 as I regularly attend exhibitions and events at g39 (blog post here) and as for the course at Arnolfini, knowing very little about curating live art, I went in open and ready to learn (which you can read about here).  My research for Wales in Venice was particularly useful, as it allowed me to brush up on my knowledge about Bedwyr Williams, contemporary art in Wales and also learn more about the artists that have represented Wales in Venice in the past.

Invigilating for g39; a contemporary visual art space, participating in a course about curating contemporary performance and working for Wales in Venice as an invigilator for Bedwyr Williams and The Starry Messenger have all been fantastic experiences and each has taught me, in different ways, about practical involvement in the arts.  My time in Venice was particularly beneficial in this way.  I wanted to see Wales’ presence on an international platform and happily, I was able to witness how the Welsh Pavilion was one of the best in the Biennale.  To have the opportunity to support such an interesting exhibition, whilst also being given the time to experience the Biennale and the encouragement to undertake a personal project, was invaluable.

To try and describe how of this has all impacted upon my ideas for a career / my art form is really quite difficult.  It has helped to clarify that I do want to continue with an art form and with an art from that is broader than photography; I wasn’t really sure after graduating.  I have also been made to realise that I need to go after opportunities that I don’t think I’ll get; I nearly didn’t apply for Venice until a friend suggested that I should and convinced me that I could do it.  It was a similar situation with the course at the Arnolfini.  I’ve realised that I can apply for the opportunities that interest me, and that I can apply as an artist, or with a curatorial interest or as a producer / project co-ordinator!  An unexpected outcome, is that through these experiences, I have realised that I really enjoy reviewing.  It was something I had always wanted to do, but I never really had the confidence and/or reason to review something.  This blog has been my reason and it’s helped me to realise that I can do it and nothing terrible is going to happen once you send something like that out into the world!


Below is a statement from Mererid Velios, Arts Council Wales, to confirm that I really was an Invigilator for Wales in Venice:

To Whom it may concern

I can confirm that Louise Hobson took part in The Invigilator Plus 2013 Programme for Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice at the 55th Biennale. She worked for 3 weeks full-time from 23rd September until 13th October 2013 as an invigilator and her duties included:

Meeting and greeting visitors and engaging them in conversations about Bedwyr Williams’s work and the visual arts in Wales.
Directing visitors through the show and ensuring their health and safety.
Opening and closing the exhibition, including switching equipment on and off (following the technical handbook).
Care of the work including daily and weekly condition checking and reporting.
Dealing with press enquiries.
Record keeping and admin, including counting visitor numbers and managing petty cash

As well as these duties for the exhibition, Louise also completed a personal project whilst in Venice and is presenting her project as well as feedback to the exhibition and the experience of being an invigilator, in a final evaluation report.

best wishes, Mererid

Info WVB
Cyngor Celfddydau Cymru/Arts Council of Wales
Plas Bute/Bute Place
Caerdydd/Cardiff CF10 5AL