logo-small-leeds-inspiredA bonus blog, unusually for me, published on Thursday for reasons that will be obvious as you read on. I met an ‘old’ lecturer (the one who wrote the poem) of mine the other week and he was telling me what he did to keep active in his retirement. I liked the sound of this particular activity and asked him to write me a blog about it. It fits very well into my continued learning / learning new skills category. This is what he came up with. I’ve split it into two episodes, the second part to follow in a week’s time. There’s a bit of a plug at the end of this blog (next week’s would have been too late) for some of the film-related activities associated with Doug’s course. The course is associated with Leeds Inspired a heading / organisation covering art activities inspired or set in Leeds, hence image right above, to be honest the only image I could find.

Cineage – on being an elderly film director (and a chance to see some movies).  By Doug Sandle

Volunteers wanted among retired over 65s to engage in a film making course!’ So stated an email that had found its way to me last August (2014). Well that sounded interesting, and I needed a project to keep me going throughout the winter. Accordingly I enquired for further details and was informed that Cineage was a European funded project (don’t mention it to Nigel) involving the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University and partner institutions in Portugal, Slovenia and Italy. At the centre of Cineage was the development of a pilot course for elders about the cinema and which was intended to promote and encourage ‘active ageing’. Further information revealed that I could sign up for free (yes I had to read that again) as a volunteer student on the pilot course that would provide seminars on the appreciation of European cinema, investigate the portrayal of ageing in the cinema and impart practical knowledge and experience in film scriptwriting and film making. The clincher was that I would be involved as a then 72 year old in the making of at least one of three short films to be shot early in January. (Wow it seemed too good to be true).

And so in September a dozen or so of we elders (the oldest being 85) received our scarily detailed 80 page course Learning Manual with details of modules, expected learning time and schedules, learning outcomes, key words, case studies, examples of what to do, index of icons, lots of shaded boxes etc. etc. and embarked on ten weekly three hour long Monday evening classes boosted by three (or was it meant to be four) two-day weekend sessions. We were apprehensive but keen and determined to become older versions of Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood (well yes he is elderly), Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion or Michelle MacLaren.

As guinea pigs on a new venture, with our teachers/lecturers /workshop leaders also learning to adapt their course document ambitions to a bunch of demanding, sometimes querulous but knowledge-thirsty elders, there were inevitably a few frustrations among the highs, and in particular it was more time demanding than was anticipated (like we got homework to do). But we enthusiastically told each other stories, often based on our own life experiences, turned them into scripts in the required screen format, learnt about the structures and politics of the film industry and were confronted by a bit of semiotics on the representation of the elderly in film. We even had a go with complex editing computer programmes, which was very difficult for some (including me), – but at least we got to appreciate the complexities, mechanisms, and skills of digital computer editing (and we learned that initially, in the early days of physical film the editors were nearly always women as generally they were perceived as having ready nimble skills with the scissors). We turned stories into story boards, we acted out scenarios with different gestures or nuances to learn that when directing actors the same ‘scene’ can have several potential meanings, and the writers among us had to learn to picture our narratives and think visually rather than verbally, (a left side and right side brain swop?). We came to understand how film editing was crucial to determine the look, pace, drama and expressiveness of the finished product and that a seemingly short seamless scene (try saying that a few times after a drink or two) was filmed many times over from different camera shots (the actors having to repeat the same actions and dialogue exactly over and over again). Oh and we really enjoyed the wine, cheese and crisps (again don’t tell Nigel). We moaned at some of the things that did not go as well as we expected, and largely ignored the demanding minutia of the sometimes patronising and matronising course handbook.

End of part one.

NB: The Cineage course will be running again in Leeds next year – January to early summer 2016. (Anyone interested should contact Dave Turner as follows D.P.Turner@leedsbeckett.ac.uk )

PS Free tickets are available for the following Cineage Festival events:

Screening of wonderful Italian film ‘Mid August Lunch’ + Q&A with director/star Gianni Di Gregorio Date: Friday – 17 July Time: 8pm – 11pm Location: Hyde Park Cinema, Leeds Free Tickets – Just turn up or book in advance from: http://onlinestore.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=1&prodid=1460

See Trapped and other Cineage student films plus Q&A session. Date: Saturday- 18 July Time: pm – 10:00am – 13:00pm Location: Leeds Everyman Cinema, Trinity Shopping Centre Free Tickets – Just turn up or book in advance from: http://onlinestore.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=1&prodid=1461

Selected short films from UK and Europe – Competition Screenings (Involving elder actors, and/or producers, and / or themes and stories about growing old-some excellent films) Date: Saturday- 18 July Time: pm – 14:00pm – 17:30pm Location: Carriage Works, Millennium Square Leeds Free entrance just turn up.

Screening of Channel 4’s hit documentary movie Fabulous Fashionistas with Q and A session with two of the stars and the director followed by a screening of Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Date: Saturday- 18.July Time: pm – 19:30pm – 23:00pm Location: Hyde Park Cinema, Leeds Free Tickets- just turn up or book in advance at below: http://onlinestore.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=1&prodid=1463

Selected short films from UK and Europe – Competition Screenings (Involving elder actors, and/or producers, and / or themes and stories about growing old-some excellent films) Date: Saturday- 18 July Time: pm – 14:00pm – 17:30pm Location: Carriage Works, Millennium Square Leeds Free entrance just turn up.

Screening of Channel 4’s hit documentary movie Fabulous Fashionistas with Q and A session with two of the stars and the director followed by a screening of Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Date: Saturday- 18.July Time: pm – 19:30pm – 23:00pm Location: Hyde Park Cinema, Leeds Free Tickets- just turn up or book in advance at below: http://onlinestore.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/browse/extra_info.asp?compid=1&modid=1&prodid=1463

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