Q2. Issues you experience
This week I would like you to consider and comment on any aspect of your club where input from others might assist. Issues such as falling membership, inability to attract younger members, member involvement in competitions and practical activities might be examples of where input from others might be useful.
The reason behind this question is that it will be useful to us going forward, given the diversity of this group, the problems we collectively experience will no doubt be reflected across the regions clubs.
(Responses are in alphabetical order)
Brian: I am sure that the issues you list will be recognised by many clubs. Reading was no exception
five years ago when we started to look at the underlying reasons for our problems. Our membership
was ageing, we were just not attractive to a younger generation, and we were not recognising that the
world and technology was changing faster than we were.
The impact of social media, and the use of phones and action cams was exploding the amount of
video footage being captured but much was of dubious quality and little was being edited into
watchable material. We felt that this identified a gap in the market place which we might exploit as the
one advantage that we had was experience and knowledge.
In order to get more people through the doors we organised a six week course on basic video
techniques specifically targeted at newcomers with minimal knowledge anxious to get the best out of
their video camera, IPhone or GoPro. We promoted this using Social media and ran the course in
parallel with our normal weekly club meetings at the beginning of our Autumn season and at the end
of the six weeks course participants had to have produced and shown a short video to the whole
membership. The hope was that we could attract them into club membership to further develop their
skills and knowledge.
Fortunately we had an enthusiastic “champion” who ran the course and encouraged the participants
and as a result more than half initially transferred to full membership and by the end of the year about
a third had become fully committed members.
The course has been repeated every year since then and we have reversed our shrinking
membership, lowered our age profile and already have our second lady chairman. This evolution has
not been without its challenges – the focus of our meetings has changed with far more emphasis on
practical involvement (which has not necessarily been popular with those members who prefer to sit
and be entertained) and sadly last year we lost our “champion” who is going to be a hard act to follow.
Our current situation however is that we are in a better situation that we were 5 years ago, we still
meet in the same church hall but the participants and activities are different.
Ivan: Recruitment of new members and advertising our presence is always an issue and attracting
younger enthusiasts is always a problem. We have over the years I have been a member of TFMC
lost quite a lot of members. I can think of 12/14 who were there when I first joined in 2002 but who no
longer attend – five have sadly died, others have stopped through illness and old age or no longer
come for other reasons. However, fortunately for us, our website has attracted new members and we
have welcomed seven new members over the past two or three years (one of whom is a 15 year old
school girl who is a keen film maker). So, although numbers have dropped considerably we are
feeling in an upbeat mood at present. Our membership has always been a mix of those who make
films and those who just come along to watch them – spouses of enthusiasts etc. Having said that,
the percentage number of film makers at the club has grown recently and we were delighted at how
many cameras were present at last year’s “Outdoor Filming” evening.
One of the issues we try to struggle with at TFMC is the fact that members use different editing suites
to edit their films – some us still use the Casablanca machines, some Premiere Elements or Pro, some
Sony Vegas, some Final Cut Pro on Apple Macs etc etc. Usually when beginners to our hobby start
to articulate their difficulties its often about how to use these different editing programmes that comes
up most. Offering blanket workshops to the whole club on how to use a computer programme
therefore does not work and it often boils down to experienced members trying to give one-to-one
tutorials on laptops. In a busy programme of events this is not always successful.
TFMC have been fortunate in that we have contacts with a number of professional and experienced
film makers that can input into our club activities – Roger Edwards (professional videographer and
editor), for one, is a regular on our club’s programme giving illustrated talks on aspects of filming and
even coming along to practical evenings where his sage advice has been very helpful to
members. We have also had three illustrated talks by Danny Cooke a local film maker (who
specialises in using a drone) and last year a very interesting talk by Phil Hooper of Sky News. These
professionals all came to the club through contact with members – as you probably know, Roger
Edwards is a good friend of Roger Western.
As I mentioned in my answer to Q1, one of the beneficial things that SoCo gives us is contact with
other similar clubs with whom we might share our video productions. As I said then, this gives us the
opportunity to discuss amateur films openly without fear of upsetting the film makers. We hope that
the DVD of films we send in return gives the clubs we exchange with the same opportunity.
The one big time of year that we most appreciate being part of a wider community is when we stage
the Teign Cup. When members of other clubs come along to the screening it gives us (and hopefully
them) the opportunity for making new friends and renewing old relationships, for discussion and to
see what all the clubs are doing in terms of film making. I guess the SoCo competitions have the
It has to be said though that there are those who question the value of competitions (both internal
competitions and competitions on a wider regional basis) – how can you judge a 20 minute
documentary against a 3 minute comedy, or (regionally) a film made by enthusiastic but not very
skilled amateurs (which may be the best film they have ever made) against films made by clubs which
have a number of retired professionals amongst their members? The one big benefit of competitions
that is always cited of course is that they prompt people and clubs to get out and make films that
otherwise might not be made – a good thing I guess. I know that’s a controversial subject but its one
that often crops up in Teignmouth.
Lee: Falling membership! The great old days have long gone now and this applies to SOCO and the
IAC is wobbling on the brink of “the abyss” too SO: whilst we have so far managed to maintain the
interest of some including that of several young people, this is NOT by sitting around chattering like
old folks in a Care Home etc. but by Doing Things, taking roles in video productions THEIR WAY to
an extent and avoiding squatting around to watch films, sup coffee and trumpet about the days gone
by. We are in the “Digital Age” which virtually all of them understand so what were once “miracles”
are now common place and this bears on their views and attitudes!
(Additionally CLUBS are supposed to be friendly places…in some and *one definite case around
here, this is far from true” as they still maintain an argument and differences after 27 years)! Yes
believe it. (Its membership is down from what was around 40 to apparently about 15. It’s a case of “If
your face fits” with them))!
As for competitions yes these have their place in the overall scheme of things BUT NOT when it’s
become obvious that it’s a “one way street”! See the last ( January / February 2019) SOCO NEWS.
Michael: My personal aspect on this is a slight sense of apathy and motivation in members bringing
in ideas and suggestions ( I am as guilty as anyone )
There are a couple of very motivated people in the group from which most of the ideas come from and
to be fair I think everyone enjoys the group activities once they are presented with them.
There has been a push this year to get more people entering competitions and this is proving more
successful with more entries being submitted.
Attracting new members is difficult, details about the club are not hard to find for anyone interested in
this, as it is available in the local newspaper, online and promoted a couple of times a year through a
stand at public venues where there is a decent amount of footfall.
Mike: I think young people get put off by Clubs generally, *a Club I used to attend (won’t mention any
names) would occasionally get an interested young guy, but they never returned and it’s a sad thing
that young people get disillusioned by Clubs. It’s a great pity we can’t get the younger film makers
interested but there it is.
Tony: A number of issues have been raised as well as details how some are being successfully
addressed which is great and exactly what we are looking for. Hopefully from the conversation that
will flow from this question, we can see how SoCo might be involved. I look forward to hearing from
I sympathise with the issue you raise about different editing programmes for beginners. However you should not lose sight of the fact that there are two elements to the editing process :
The first category is common to the editing process whatever programme is being used and if beginners have a clear understanding of that before they start to wrestle with the learning curve of a software package that can help. All too often you see people trying to learn both at the same time and that’s where a lot of confusion can creep in.
think that the issue raised by Brian in his 15th February response to Ivan regarding formatting standards is such that it probably warrants a new conversation
So, with your agreement Brian, I will make it Q3 which I plan to issue on Saturday 16th February