Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Film Ramble: Questions, Answers and Film Festival Etiquette

Questions, answers and film festival etiquette…

As noted in my first review of Saturday's BHFF 2017 screenings, I'm not really au fait with film festivals. There's no agenda behind that, I've just not really crossed paths with the scheduling-format before, save that one I blagged at the last minute which felt a little like gatecrashing someone's end-of-year party.

I only bring it up here as there seems to be a different behavioural vibe at the festival screening. I've noted the routine foibles of younger and older audiences before of course, but this heady atmosphere of exuberant communal creativity seems raise a whole bunch of problems other than ones usually covered by The Code.

With this in mind, I've compiled a short checklist of situations you may well find yourself in, and (in my humble opinion, of course) the most appropriate way in which to respond. To wit...

Are you taking part in a Q&A session in a cinema auditorium?

Well, if you haven't been given a microphone for this (as either the presenter or interviewee), why not actually project your voice? That would be lovely. Unlike the music-halls of yore, these new theatres are designed to absorb sound so that nothing bounces around unduly, and the audience of a film hears exactly what the sound-designer intended, at the precise moment they're supposed to. This doesn't really extend anything not emitting from the 7.1 speaker-system, though. So, standing at the front of the room and talking at conversational-volume is pretty much useless for everyone except the occupants of the front row, even in smaller theatres. Thanks in advance.

Are you an audience-member asking a question in a Q&A session?

Well, why not raise a subject which other people in the audience might relate to, or remotely know/care anything about? Have you got a ridiculously technical film-making query? You can probably get that answered via Facebook, e-mail or just catching the production team in the foyer afterwards. If the crew know the answer, they'll be delighted to have a 20-minute conversation about it outside. I promise that other than your budding cinematographer mate who's sat next to you, nobody in that room cares what type of cameras were used for the film. No. Body. At. All. The Q&A audience want broad making-of advice and anecdotes about the film they've just watched, not a list of specs and statistics.

Are you a filmmaker attending a screening of your own project at a festival?

Well, if this is taking place at one of the 'chain' cinemas and there's public admission, you'll be allocated a numbered seat like everybody else, mate. I don't care if you have a lanyard, you'll be issued a ticket by the cinema, either digitally or on paper. That's how cinemas work, now. It's not always great, but it's where we are. The cinema has given you a specific seat purely because all those people who've paid to be in the room as a viewer have also been given specific seat. That's why they're walking into the room and asking you to move. I promise you, they're not the ones being rude.

Are you sneaking your own booze into a film screening?

Well, why not try carrying it in a hip-flask or buying a flat, pocket-sized bottle of whiskey? We can all hear you opening your can of Fosters you absolute dick, no matter how surreptitious you think you're being. You are *this* close to being as bad as the next guy...

Are you one of the apparently in-a-minority festival goers who does give a shit about allocated seating?

Well that's great, but check you're at the right seat when you walk into the auditorium and you're looking at the seat number. Don't wait until after the lights have gone down, the preceding 19-minute film has played through and the main feature is actually beginning, and then decide to flick your iPad on lighting up your entire torso and shiny bald head to a room full of astonished onlookers. That's the kind of thing a massive, absolute twat would do. Also, don't act all surprised and indignant when someone steps across the aisle to tell you to turn it off. If you're going to be surprised about anything, try channelling that into some amazement that the guy in question didn't simply punch you in the side of the head before clattering your tablet to the floor and stamping on it.

This question/answer is a little more niche, obviously, applying mainly to the occupant of seat B7 in Screen 5 in the 19:30 screening at Cineworld Leicester Square on the Saturday 4th November 2017. If you're reading this sir, just know that the other 30 occupants of that room think you're some kind of massive, absolute twat, and rightfully so.

Are you going to see a film at A Film Festival?

Well, it's still a cinema so fucking well behave.

So… any questions?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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