It’s good to see the Edinburgh International Film Festival jettison its strained efforts to “keep up with the Cannes-es”. Reduced funding this year has clipped the Film Festival’s wings in terms of the amount of high profile stars appearing for red carpet premieres. But the clipped wings have resulted in innovative programming around the enduring quality main film programme (50% of the brochure). New media art (New Media Scotland), photography and visual art agencies (Stills) formally join the programme and stretch its span, hosting events that celebrate the impact and relationship of film to may other art forms, and the impact of other art forms on film. The events are held in other places and spaces Edinburgh – a strand called “Outside The Box”. The relationship between film and music is explicitly acknowledged, with a thread of programming around sound tracks.
The Film Festival is also highly accessible to those learning about film, starting out in film, as well as already established film professionals. The filmmakers have been recruited to become the teachers of a pop-up film school, as well as the panelists in the Industry Programme – a series of debates that address the current and future risks and opportunities for the industry. The impact of the web on film has created many new forms of making, distribution and consumption. Rather than being scared of the threat to the traditional art form, the hybrid forms are celebrated. The Industry programme properly addresses the changing nature of the making and distributing of film, and will analyse, debate, critique and reflect on what these changes might mean for the future of cinema and its audiences. I’m excited to be moderating the session on crowd funding with a panel including 2 seasoned filmmakers who have successfully crowd sourced funds for film production. (24.06.11, 1530).
Rudman Consulting’s AmbITion Scotland programme co-produced Culture Hack Scotland together with Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab: I live blogged the event using ace app Storify!
[View the story “Culture Hack Scotland” on Storify]
Last Thursday I watched an NTLive! almost-live simulcast at my local Cameo Cinema, of Frankenstein, London’s hottest sold out ticket, directed by Danny Boyle (to see it in London, I’d have to queue for a day ticket -from 1am, when the queue starts forming!). The production was mesmerising, engaging, gripping and yes, it was live theatre on stage, with its sweat, spits, and occasional trips and stammers, recorded for digital distribution. Except, this time, it wasn’t quite live.
The show has a unique concept in that Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller turn about, every performance, between the roles of Frankenstein and The Creature. The first NTLive! production of Frankenstein was on 17th March: Johnny Lee-Miller was Frankenstein. Later that day, they filmed the turn-about production with Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein, which was simulcast a week later in cinemas. Why didn’t they wait a week to simulcast the Benedict Cumberbatch Frankenstein? Well, as with all theatre, the performance is unique every day, and the actors react to each other. So Cumberbatch’s Frankenstein in the evening show will have been influenced by his experience of the earlier show. So the filming on the same day enabled the cinema audience to see nuances of facial and body tics that the two actors have developed as both characters – bizarrely manifesting in both characters – intensifying the sense the audience experiences of not knowing who is the man and who is the monster. There were some camera shots that gave us unique experience of the lighting design and the set that those in the theatre would not have seen. In the bridal chamber scene, an overhead shot gave us a birds-eye view of the bride of Frankenstein that no audience member would have experienced. Presumably, the same-day filming saved film crew, cast and crew costs as well.
That the show wasn’t live didn’t matter at all in the cinema. The sold-out audience watched another brilliant NT innovation as they settled in their seats and got cokes/wine/crisps/sweets ready – trailers to live and simulcast upcoming shows, and trailers advertising the digital programme (£3). Emma Freud then did a talking head to camera in the empty NT auditorium, explaining the show’s set up, and setting our expectations about there being no interval and a short documentary introducing the show. At the end, the cinema audience clapped the bows, despite them not being live. It didn’t matter – the clapping was for us in the room, a physical expression of our impression of the show.
The Royal National Theatre have certainly increased the reach and scale of their latest show beyond their own walls, as well as improving accessibility to it – physically and socially. Almost live and live, filmed theatre can be inspiring if the content is handled optimally for screen, the context is set (Emma Freud does this), and the community engages (the community was the cinema audience, clapping together). The digital programme gives you access after the event to production images, videos, articles, all exclusive content. Click to download an example from previous NT Live! production of London Assurance.
NATIONAL THEATRE OF SCOTLAND MARKS ITS 5TH BIRTHDAY WITH A VIRTUAL 24 HOUR THEATRE PROJECT
Today, 25th February, 2011, the National Theatre of Scotland marks its fifth birthday by opening public submissions for a nationwide virtual theatre project as well as announcing details of a series of public platforms aimed at provoking and facilitating cultural debate.
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director, National Theatre of Scotland commented: “Five years ago, we had no idea that anything we set out to do was actually possible. There was no such thing as an NTS show, an NTS event, or an NTS audience member.
“It is thanks to the talent, courage and inspiration of the people I work with – the artists, the designers, the truck drivers – and the hunger of the audience to be entertained, that any of this has been possible. That on our fifth birthday we would have shows in Ullapool, New York City, Aberdeen and Edinburgh was unimaginable, but here we are!
“The last five years have proven to me that theatre genuinely has the ability to be responsive, inspiring and change the way we see the world around us.”
Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Culture and External Affairs said: “Over its first five years our National Theatre has grown into a remarkable cultural asset, celebrating the work of our many artists and bringing theatre to communities across the country.
“We have also seen our National Theatre flourish on the international stage, touring acclaimed productions and showcasing our cultural excellence to new audiences.
“The 5th Anniversary programme shows innovation, ambition and a genuine commitment to engage with audiences – all of which signals a great future for theatre in this country.”
FIVE MINUTE THEATRE
SUBMISSIONS FOR IDEAS NOW OPEN. DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: FRIDAY 25 MARCH, 2011
From 1pm today, Friday 25 March, 2011, National theatre of Scotland invites members of the public to visit http://www.fiveminutetheatre.com to submit their ideas to create a five minute piece of theatre.
Successful applicants will then develop their work for inclusion in a 24hour online broadcast of live theatre from 5pm on Tuesday 21st June until 5pm the following day.
Professional or not, old or young, absolutely anyone can take part by writing, devising, directing, performing and producing a piece of theatre, five minutes long. There are no set skills you must have; no qualifications required other than dramatic flair, a good idea and some bravery!
The deadline for ideas submissions is Friday 25 March, 2011.
www.fiveminutetheatre.com contains up to date information including clear instructions and details on the selection process as well as regular features from the National Theatre of Scotland’s key creative team offering tips, advice and classes on how to make and deliver a piece of theatre.
The latest Five Minute Theatre news can also be followed on Twitter, where participants can ask questions, share ideas and tips and connect with other theatre-makers.
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director, National Theatre of Scotland explains:
“At National Theatre of Scotland, we don’t think we’re the only ones who can make theatre. We’re using our 5th birthday as an opportunity to offer audiences a chance to share their creative talents. On June 21st, we’re going to stage live, online, 24hours of non-stop 5 minute theatre – created by anyone, for everyone!
“Your five minutes can be filled with whatever you want it to be, whatever ‘theatre’ means to you. You can write your own script, create a scene or a situation, it can have music or dance, a director and actors, props and costumes or something no one has thought of yet.
She continued: “You can interpret this in any way you like, any style you like. It can be a thriller, a drama, a romance, a monologue, anything. It can be on a stage, in a living room, a park, village hall, community centre, library, office, class room, football pitch – the choice is yours.
“You are in charge. You decide what your five minutes are; you decide where to perform it, how to cast it and who the audience will be. It’s your story; however you want to tell it.”
Heather McDonald, Groups Sponsorship Manager at ScottishPower said: “ScottishPower is delighted to support the National Theatre of Scotland and would like to congratulate the organisation on its fifth birthday.
“Our support for NTS focuses on the community and education projects run by the Learn department of the company. Our belief is that culture and art should be accessible for all.
“With our long tradition of supporting the arts in the UK we are pleased to be continuing our relationship with the National Theatre of Scotland which is part of the substantial commitment ScottishPower has made to the arts in Scotland.”
Hannah Rudman, Director, Envirodigital (consultant producers for Five Minute Theatre) said: “We’re so excited to be consultant producers of National Theatre Scotland’s innovative Five Minute Theatre.
“Webcasting is a great new technology for increasing the scale, reach, impact and access to the Company’s work, digitally and so, reducing the impact on the environment.
“Webcasting isn’t about instead of the ‘live’, it’s about AS WELL AS the ‘live’, and we look forward to working with National Theatre of Scotland to ensure that their great content and curatorship is experienced in an appropriate context online, so that the online audience community can enjoy deep levels of engagement and participation with live theatre.”
@WeDidThisUK ‘s Ed Whiting explains the aspirations and opportunities of the UK’s latest crowd source fundraising website, WeDidThis.
Google’s ultra-high resolution Street View cameras have been sneaking around galleries in nine countries – out of hours – to capture the world’s finest art collections as 360 degree digital tours. The Art Project was launched at Tate Britain yesterday, and includes 385 rooms, and 1061 different pieces.
Each gallery has also chosen one piece to be digitised in ultra-high resolution (7bn pixels), which allows you see a masterpiece in greater detail than the human eye and most microscopes can manage. This encourages people to study art works in depth, for better understanding technique, subject, materials/construction and realisation, and is a move away from the noughties obsession in the visual arts sector as of digitisation as a mechanism for futureproofing archiving.
Nick Serota has had to assure art lovers (and insurance companies) that no security information is given away, but his most interesting comment is around the great fear that the cultural sector has of digitisation: that digitising work causes cannibalisation of the live, real experience. “When people get a glimpse, they want to see the real thing” he’s reported as saying in The Times today.
Having been shouted at twice for wanting to see an exhibit more closely and peering with my short-sighted head over the line at the National Gallery this weekend, I shall appreciate the accessibility of the work being online. I shall also be able to work out what I want to see in Paris during a short trip in April. But I know that I will not have the thrill of all the things I like in a gallery: understanding the scale of work; the way being near it makes me feel; if it smells of history or strange materials, and just trying to work out why someone else has been standing there studying the piece for a few minutes. As a sensory and social human being I know that the “real thing” cannot be replicated. I believe all human beings innately know this too, and I wish the cultural sector would more fully grasp the potential of digital for increasing access. Without digitising, we face the risk of becoming obscure.
With UK Arts Minister Ed Vaizey delivering a speech (no I didn’t write it, although many have asked me if I had!) about how cultural organisations must develop digitally and work more with digital industries in order to be sustainable, its a great indicator that engaging with AmbITion’s opportunities is timely and appropriate organisational development.