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Category Archives: Artova Kino
This autumn has seen some new people joining our Artova Kino team, which is rewarding. It shows that Artova Kino is viewed as the kind of movie club new people want to be part of doing and developing.
We, the old team, have been thinking what would be the easiest way to welcome the newcomers to what we do. The ideal situation is that the volunteer feels at home with what he does and does it for himself and based on his own interests instead of working for someone or something else. One of the rewarding aspects of Artova Kino is that the motivation to participate can be simply the opportunity to show, choose and see movies that you can rarely catch in Finland. On the other hand, the routines we’ve developed with everything make us a less open group than we used to be. It was partially because of that that we decided to start this season off by re-assigning some of the roles and made a point to plan the programs together. How to get rid of the idea that there are the old hands and the newbies and there’s an according hierarchy? It’s true that the old hands know how things are done with Artova Kino but the newcomers might have ideas and skills that we could really use in the team. Our activities should be the sum of everyone involved.
On the other hand, an enthusiastic volunteer often sees her workload grow out of proportion, which leads to the motivation evaporating. We must always remember that we’re not here to develop volunteering practices, we’re here to run a movie club. Poring too much over one’s own working methods is often time away from one’s primary reason to be involved in the first place.
The most crucial moment must be when a new person joins the team. Perhaps it would be good if each new Artova Kino volunteer told, maybe even broadly, about their interests. That way everyone could think together what part of the project would incorporate the tasks most interesting to the new guy.
Translation by Pigasus Translations
Mari Andersson ja Azar Saiyar deconstructed the Artova Kino concept into bite-size entities in Artova Film Festival (AFF) mini seminar 7.9.2012 (see the video in this post). They told about the joys and challenges of running a movie club that has established itself in the Helsinki movie scene. They also told about funding, facilities, hunting down rights to films, film traffic, motivation, ambition and the magic of the moving picture.
Translation by Pigasus Translations.
In one autumn season we’ve managed to spread the word among the area residents pretty efficiently. Actually, the visitor count has been surprisingly high. There were almost 200 viewers in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. And a touch over 200 in the Swedish-speaking children’s animation about the little ghost called Laban. The least popular showings have had about 30 spectators.
We didn’t set out to show blockbusters, thinking that “I wish this film will bring a lot of viewers to Artova Kino”. Since there are no entrance fees, Artova Kino’s funds aren’t directly linked to the spectator counts, which is the case with commercial businesses. From the get-go, we wanted to make a name as a movie club that shows films you can rarely catch here in Finland.
We do monitor the numbers, though, and an almost full theatre or the familiar faces that come every week increase the motivation to do this. We’ve wanted that the filmoholics all around the Helsinki area would find their way to Artova Kino. This is what has happened. What we didn’t really achieve was publicity co-operation with the film institutes of the Arabianranta area. In spite of actively informing the schools, we didn’t get film students to visit our shows. So, we have been thinking about how to develop better co-operation with the film schools, one possibility being that we could somehow combine their teaching with the Artova Kino program. A viable idea, bearing in mind that we’ve already had a guest speaker (such as Susanna Helke, Esa Illi and Kari Yli-Annala) to give a little introductory speech before each of the shows (excluding the children’s shows).
For us organizing it all, the biggest challenge is to put the program together early enough with all the guest speakers and the optional pre-show clips. This far we’ve been able to confirm the guest speaker pretty much on the last minute. That’s a problem since we should be able to inform the schools of our program when the teachers are planning their courses for the coming semester.
Often in regional activities like this, it seems it’s more important to incorporate many different instances than to launch massive publicity campaigns. Different instances (such as schools) bring in their wake their own people, contacts and ideas. This applies to visitor counts as well. While we have been fairly active with different media and attracted quite a few people that way, we feel that the commitment to return to the same movie club over and over again has to do with both good experiences with the films and feeling good about the organization and the place where the shows are.
We’ve had quite few mistakes that have tolled the visitor count. We’ve had some problems with our copies of films – sometimes our copies were so late we didn’t get to show them on the agreed night. Fortunately, though, we’ve been able to show all the programmed films eventually. Although all this “home-grown”, unofficial vibe is a positive thing and make it easy for people to come to us, too much uncertainty eats at our credibility. If the viewer can’t be sure if she’ll be able to see the film we’ve said we’d show in the program, she might not bother leaving home at all. It mustn’t get too serious but at the same time the basics need to run smoothly. That’s the balance you’ll want to have.
Translation by Pigasus Translations.
Hunting down movie copies and licences is a whole world of sleuthing of its own – sometimes it grows into a fascinating search for the right people and connections. The cases where the film has been running recently in Finnish cinemas are the easiest. It’s likely that there is a copy you can get your hands on and there is a Finnish person, association or company that has the licence to show it.
Things get tricky when you want to show a film that has never been distributed in Finnish cinemas. Although you sometimes see movies like this in, say, the series shown by the National Audiovisual Archives (Kava), we’ve learned during our time in Artova Kino that Kava also shows films that they don’t have a copy of at all. For example, out of the works of Abbas Kiarostami, the rights and a 35 mm copy can or could be found in Finland for only The Taste of Cherry and Certified Copy.
If the movie has never been distributed in Finland, the licence must be sought elsewhere. When we decided to show the Kiarostami film Close Up in Artova Kino, the licence was finally found in France. In this case, we were tipped off to the right direction by people who had film festival experience of movie distribution. They had the contact information of the quarters who distribute films they have shown in other film festivals.
You can find a surprising amount of info on the distributors online: the Internet Movie Database and, for films previously shown in Finland, Elonet service are useful. We’ve also made phone calls to Kava and the national broadcasting service, Yle, when looking for contact info. In our experience, people are happy to give a hand.
One observation we’ve made is that one movie can have a number of distributors – one for Europe, one for North America, or even smaller areas, like distributors for France and the UK but no-one for the Nordic countries. Often it has taken several forwarded e-mails to reach the right person. Times like those one is grateful for having started out with a lenient schedule. Finding the right person may well take four weeks what with all the forwarded e-mails. It has been helpful to sit down and write a well thought out message that contains the introduction of Artova Kino and enquiries of a licence / film copies. Later on, work gets done faster when you can simply modify the old text.
While sleuthing, you also find new European distributors. Writing these down for future reference might come in useful when compiling new programs later on. Even if the distributor company isn’t the one you are looking for this time.
When the copies and licensors are located, the next question is the price for showing the film. The prices may vary a lot depending of the distributing company, producer or where the movie was made. Time of publication can also affect the price. The most expensive recompense suggested to Artova Kino for one-time screening of an entire film from a DVD was one thousand euro. (The movie was not shown.) On the other hand, some production companies are happy to give the licence and the film copy for free, given that the showing is organised by volunteers and that there is no entrance fee.
This far Artova Kino has paid 0–450 euro per screened film. After a bit of haggling, the licence for Kiarostami’s Close Up was acquired for 400 euro. The movie was shown from a DVD that had to be bought for the show. Rights for the same movie shown on film would have cost double. Of course, that wouldn’t include the rent of the film copy and delivery to Finland. Sometimes the solutions can be inventive – it never hurts to ask. When negotiating about Derek Jarman’s Blue, we cut a deal directly with the producer, who sent the film copy from London to Helsinki. We were able to incorporate Love&Anarchy film festival into the screening. The festival was useful when transporting the film to Finland.
When planning the Artova Kino screenings, we strove to find different solutions to how to screen films that are usually difficult to show due to transporting expenses. When we found a particular film we wanted to screen, we also thought of possible co-operation partners that would fit the nature of the film. This approach allowed us to import film copies from France as well as the UK. Co-operation continues in showing Nordic films.
The most tricky situations occur when the distributing company has gone bankrupt and the licences are “lost”, in a way. The licensor might be, for example, the company who bought the bankrupt distributor, but the new licensor might be disinterested in selling licences. This leads to a situation where somebody has created a wonderful, exciting film, but it can’t be shown as no-one is taking care of the licences. For the makers, the first priority would probably be that the film gets to be seen.
This was the situation with Gummo by Harmony Korine. The distributor had gone out of business and no-one seemed to have interest in the licences. We e-mailed various production and distribution companies that had, at some point or another, been linked to any of Korine’s productions, but no-one was actively controlling the licences. In the end, we decided to show the film.
To wrap up, here are four guidelines for those who are searching for licences and film copies.
1. Think of suitable individuals, groups or companies who can help you find licences and copies or who might be interested in producing the show. Go directly to producers, directors.
2. Reserve sufficiently time for enquiries.
3. Sit down and write a well thought out e-mail template in Finnish and in English that you will use when looking for the movie licences and copies.
4. Have a list of distributors that you’ve e.g. contacted or found when looking around the Internet.
Translation by Pigasus Translations.