b arts - THE WEB-SITE LAUNCH PARTY
b arts (aka Beavers Arts) launched their new web-site in style with a grand party at the Burslem School of Art. Over 100 local creatives enjoyed sumptious food and drink, web-site de-bugging, and great networking opportunities. The evening was rounded off by drumming, three songs from the Loudmouth Women choir, and a unique performance by the inimitable Friends of Ken.
The new site is at: www.pandaemonium.biz
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On the 12th of February 2003, over one hundred people decided to not watch the England football match, or to see the Stereo MC's at the Lomax. Instead, they decided to take their chances on a bunch of short films showing at the Stoke Film Theatre. On offer was the second outing for 'The Electronic Image', Stoke's regular showcase event for local film-makers. And this time the Film Theatre were kind enough to open the bar!
Organiser Dan Hopkins told Creative Stoke that this was the first "real" Electronic Image screening; most of the work had been submitted by local film & video makers, with the only odd titbits from other parts of the country.
Overall, the technical quality was good. But, as is always the case with short videos, acting quality varied on the dramas. Most films used storytelling, and told their stories well, however.
Immaculate Conception (Simon Knight / Midnight Factory) allowed us into one woman's obsessed world. Prey For The Future (Graham Watts / Streets Ahead Productions) was an imaginative take on euthanasia. The Ringmaster's Circus (Kevin Brett / Nameless Productions) portrayed one clown's slightly gory quest for freedom; and the audience seemed to love the circus strongman.
Spoken poetry and prose combined with video imagery in several pieces. True White (James Davies) showed two lovers, waxing lyrical on 'knowing their hearts'. Man of The Match (Richard Allan) featured a hockey player facing growing 'too old'. While Manoubi Ben 'Lamri (VIVA Film Productions) presented two video montages from his recent travels in Venice and North Africa.
Further video fun was had with Ghost Town (Adrian Smith), and Inner City (Mark Petty). These were both short meditations on city life in Stoke, and featured urban imagery. Machine Boy - Fakey (Dean Cook) gave us a view from his Birmingham window on a neighbourhood full of yobs.
We also had a peek into John Blake's surreal world in 'Till The Cows Come Home (John Blake), where his farmyard and backyard are one and the same.
Experimental work came in the form of It's An Idea (Melanie Delaney); she used a spyrograph to illustrate the distanciation we experience when interacting with screen media. Another Delaney piece, Lighthouse, interwove text, fractal geometry and disorientating videography to 'fracture and multiply notions of place and identity'.
Documentaries were not forgotten, either. Talk Of The Village (Chris Stone, James Tonge, Kate Woollcott, Rebecca Williams) showed how effectively stills and audio can create a vivid documentary portrait of a rural community and its characters.
There was no traditional animation in this month's lineup, but Dean Cook returned again as his alter ego Machine Boy to give us Argentian (Dean Cook), the most electronica-centric clip of the night. Cook mixed digital-video footage with beats and pulsing patterns. Brian Wilson presented a showreel of computer animations which are 'in the pipeline'.
The next and third Electronic Image is mooted for the end of April 2003. In the meantime, organiser Dan Hopkins wants anybody who has made "something that moves, grooves, bleeps or squeaks on a screen" to e-mail him at:
(This report was written by Simon Knight.)
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A local film-making group teamed up with the Stoke Film Theatre to promote a regular 'Electronic Image' showcase for short films. The first event showcased 16 films in 27th November 2002. Eighty people braved a dark wet Wednesday evening to attend.
The events are being run by Dan Hopkins of the Stoke-based creative collective no.ground.processes. Dan also works as a media production technician at Staffordshire University.
Dan told Creative Stoke that the group was planning further events; a large night in the local Talbot venue in March, which would be more of a showcase for new electronic music, and the next 'Electronic Image' showcase which would be held in February 2003; details should be printed in the next Film Theatre programme.
The films were uniformly well made, although some of the drama was occasionally let down by poor acting. I was pleased to see poetic film-making and whimsy set against the recent trend for angst and violence.
On the 'poetic' side we had an impressive montage film from Dan, featuring a meditation on English landscapes and vistas. Mike Thomas showed us the slow modulations of light from passing cars across the corners of an empty Victorian room. Iain Goodyear conveyed a love affair, backwards, using special effects to 'dive' into photos taken during the relationship. Sea Vitamins was a short documentary on why city-dwellers had chosen to abandon the cities to live near England's coastline.
On the 'shock' side the show opened with an witty pop video by Will Kemp, featuring a provocatively dressed schoolgirl in a sordid kitchen, cooking very badly indeed. Az Saleem's Limbo was a strong theatrical short about delusion, well acted and lit. Ian Brown's Shooter was an intense meditation on the USA's vogue for black masculinity and guns. Iain Goodyear's Primate showed us a grim regression into primal territorial violence, set amid industrial ruins.
Animations from Adrian Tooth and James Kent took us into the magical whimsy world of Norman & the Magic Chest and the hilarious and poignant Day in the Life of Derek the Gargoyle.
The audience gathers at the Film Theatre.
Dan and the no.ground.processes collective are now seeking tapes for future screenings.
(This report was written by Creative Stoke's main editor, and was previously published in a shorter form on the BBC Stoke web-site.)