Veteran producer talks at Northants Film Network

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Distilling almost 50 years in the film and television industry into 20 minutes is no mean feat, but veteran producer/writer Tony Klinger  did just that, at the Northants Film Network this week.

Tony has worked with the likes of Roger Moore, Steve McQueen, Keith Moon and  Lee Marvin throughout his career which has encompassed documentaries, TV series and international feature films.

With a wealth of anecdotes at his fingertips, Tony gave a great talk at the bi-monthly network at NN Cafe which aims to bring film-makers, crew and actors from across the county together to share advice and projects.

The event is organised by Becky Adams of Reelscape Films and Reelscape Community in conjunction with Northamptonshire film festival Film Northants which I organise and chair.

Tony spoke of many humorous encounters (“make sure you don’t get your film star shot, until after a production” was his evaluation of a bust up between two screen legends)  as well as giving practical advice, based on his 11 point How to Get a Film Made plan.

Some of his key advice at the film network included:

  • Making films is a series of balances: On the one hand you have a promise to tell a story that you believe in and on the other hand you have a person saying where is the ‘tits and ass’, we need more action scenes, where is the helicopter?
  • You have to makes choices on the spot, but the most important thing is to keep on filming
  • You have to constantly think about film ethics as a producer
  • Make sure you have people with complementary skills around you
  • Much of the job is about managing expectations
  • Anyone who has the passion and self belief can make a film: not all can make good films

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Co-authoring a journal article with a student

Each year I supervise and mark dozens of undergraduate dissertations of varying quality and every once in a while a student comes up with a gem.

Where I currently work at Sheffield Hallam University the best dissertations are put into the library as examples for future students to refer to. However I believe there is value in making some of these original research projects available to the wider academic public as many of them contain valuable empirical data.

I would advocate co-authoring with students, even undergraduates, and submitting work to student/graduate focused publications.

Click here to view my tips on on co-authoring with students.

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Varsity coverage: tweet by tweet

SHU journalism students took to the sports pitches last week to live tweet from Sheffield Varsity as part of their Writing the Message Online module.

Each student was placed in a team and given a match to cover. They were asked to do a live match report, post match interviews, vox pop with spectators and to talk to Varsity officials using just their mobile phones and the hashtag #wtmo.

The games covered were:

  • Women’s Cricket
  • Men’s Cricket 2
  • Men’s Rugby Union 3
  • Women’s Football 2
  • Men’s Football 3
  • Men’s Football 4

Top tweeters:







Tweeting feedback:

Good statistic from an official source Luke

Great response from follower and nice retweeting Rob

Good interaction on Twitter from Oli 

You got yourself in a good position to take this picture Eleanor (but forgot to mention which team it was)

Great little bit of player insight before the game Hayley

Nice photo and good hashtagging Chanell

Oli adding a nice bit of background colour to the story

Brilliant picture Beca – I just love it!

Simple but effective video Oli and good use of Vine

Effective little preview Lucy

Good Twitter etiquette Oli

Great quote Alana but who said it?

Good match observation Jake  but who is playing?

Good punctuation Mark but which sport and which team are you tweeting about?

Nice photo Mike but which team does he play for?

Where is your apostrophe Josh? It should like this: Hallam’s

Good use of @mention George but what is his name and who does he play for?




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Next steps for your website

Advice on the next stages of your Writing the Message Online website.

1. Look at the marking criteria and grid on Blackboard

Remember this:
There must be at least six articles on the site each a minimum of 250 words. The website must include original articles and photographs and the use of embedded material including hyperlinks and video/audio. The website must be regularly promoted on at least one social media network such as Twitter, Facebook, Instragram or Flickr.
The marking grid has sections for Concept, Content, Presentation, Multimedia, Social Media, Spelling/Punctuation/Grammar and Participation (your participation in seminars and lectures).

2. Use original content
-Your stories must contain original content and that means interviews that you have conducted yourself
-Rewriting a press release or information you find online is NOT original content
-Don’t rely on just students and the public for interviews make sure you include official sources as well such as press officers, university experts, councillors, business owners etc.
-Remember to use your own photographs or photos you have permission to use or under a Creative Commons licence

3. Brand your wesbite
-Make sure your website has a WordPress template that reflects the theme of your website. For example is you are writing about sport think about the background colour and style of your WordPress template – something floral might not be suitable!
-Include a strong image in the WordPress template to reflect your theme. For example a header or background image of food.

4. Be interactive
-Remember that the marking criteria expects you to use social media to promote your website and engage your readers
-As soon as you upload your first story you should start promoting it on one social media platform
-It would be helpful if you use the hashtag #wtmo when promoting your website on Twitter
-Also make use of @mentions and relevant # to draw people in
-Take a look at the Twitter Newsroom Guide on Blackboard to get tips on how to use it effectively

5. Use some multimedia
-You don’t need to go overboard with multimedia but a video/audio vox pop on one story, hyperlinks in your stories and lots of photos will be enough

6. Tutorials
After Easter the seminars will be replaced by drop-in tutorials. These will be held in 9203 during your usual seminar time slot. You don’t need to book an appointment just come along at any point during the two hour slot and your tutor will look at your work on your website or a hard copy.

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Accessing SHU media centre


The press office at Sheffield Hallam University is a great starting point for story ideas and experts to interview. The website is full of information, stories, photos and contacts on all aspects of university and student life.

Here are some pointers from press officer Joe Field (@joemcafield) on making the most of the press team:

  • Better to ring the press office (0114 225 2811) than to email
  • Be clear and polite when contacting the press office
  • When contacting the press office give them the following information: a summary of the story you are doing,  the angle of the story, your deadline
  • Give the press office as much time as possible and don’t expect answers on the same day
  • Use the media centre website to check out university news , to access statistical information and access experts
  • Remember the press office is happy to supply photos you can use on your websites, some of which are featured on the Fast Facts page

Further pointers on finding out information and story ideas:

  • Read the Sheffield Star and follow-up on stories they have only briefly covered
  • Set up Google News Alerts for specific topics
  • Make use of press offices for public sector organisations like Sheffield City Council and The University of Sheffield
  • Use Twitter to investigate what is going on in the city

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Tips on creating content for a news website


Advice for Writing the Message Online students on writing, interviewing and finding stories

Writing style

-Look at the module guide again and read through the assessment criteria

-Your website should have 6 news stories not 6 blog posts

-Look over the seminar slides on Writing for the Web to understand the style you need to write in and revisit the writing exercise we did in the seminar

-Intros should cover the basic who, what, where, when and then your story should explore why and how

-Read websites in order to understand the style and structure of your stories:

-You need to find a hook/angle for your stories:

  • This may simply be it is something ‘new’ (new shop, new line-up announced at a venue).
  • Or something that is new to your readers that they will be unaware of (profile of unusual university club, interview with an alternative student venue).
  •  It can also be a preview of a forthcoming event (preparations for Freshers 2014, Varsity training, interview with a band about to play a gig).
  • Or a follow-up of a national story with a local angle (latest research says students are coach potatoes, what do Hallam students and university experts think? Yellow is the new black, speak to fashion students and boutique shop owners).

Your stories may have a mixture of all of the above or other ‘new’ elements to them.

-You must include original content in your stories by way of interview. Ideally each story will have at least 2 people quoted who need to be experts or representatives. If you do a vox pop (e.g if you speak to the public/students to gather opinion) then 5 is a good number.

-Your news stories should be factual rather than opinionated and should avoid commentary in any way. Avoid phrases like ‘Meadowhall is a really great place for shopping’ ‘It is really horrible to see so many shops closing down’.

Where to find stories

-There is loads going on in Sheffield at the moment. Do you research and keep checking Blackboard announcements and the Facebook page as I will continue to put suggestions up there.

-You still have time to change your theme if you think you need to focus on something different. Run your new idea past your tutor before changing though.

-Look through the Sheffield Star newspaper and see if there are any stories you could follow up or explore in more details

-Check press releases from SHU media centre and the council – they are all online. Don’t copy them but they will tell you if there is an event coming up or people available to interview

-Some things you could base your website around:

Sheffield DocFest – international documentary film festival in June (lots of potential for preview stories and interviews)

Sheffield Adventure Film Festival – in April and SHU students are having their films screened (again lots of potential for interviews with organisers, SHU film-makers)

Varsity – lots and lots going on around SHU over the next few weeks, tonnes of people you can speak to

Student Elections interviews with candidates, student vox pops, union members

Sheffield Food Festival – lots of potential previews and interviews here

Tour De France – this is coming to Sheffield in the summer and is a MAJOR sporting event. SHU is an official partner of the event. Lots you could do on how the city is preparing for the event, how SHU is involved, what will be the short and long term economic benefit, how will it impact on the popularity of cycling etc.


-Look over the seminar slides on Developing a Story for ideas on who you should be speaking to and how to conduct interviews

-Make use of Sheffield Hallam University media centre, look at their press releases for story ideas and access their list of experts

-Don’t be afraid of contacting people. The worst thing that will happen is that they will say no. If they do, move onto another person.

-Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Have a list of possible people to contact in case they don’t all respond – always have a back up plan.

-Make use of media/press offices. They will be listed on an organisation’s website.

-Press offices you may want to contact include South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Sheffield

-Always try to conduct interviews face-to-face, second choice on the phone and a very, very last resort via email

-Before you go to an interview write a list of all the questions you want to ask. Think about what you are trying to find out and what questions will help you get this information.

-Be honest about who you are and what you are doing the story for. Don’t be afraid to admit you are scared/nervous/unsure, this will make people warm to you and want to help you more.

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Ten reasons to move home

Amanda Howson from EFF press office and Lily Canter from Film Northants

This year Film Northants will be moving venue from Cineworld Cinemas in Sixfields, Northampton to the Errol Flynn Filmhouse (EFF) in the town centre.

Why the move? Well there were a number of factors (which were carefully considered by the committee over several months) which are explained below.

However it is important to stress that we did not fall out with Cineworld and indeed the door has been left open. As the festival expands and develops over the years it may consider using multiple venues one of which may be Cineworld again.

1. Each year we try to develop and expand the festival and it was felt that EFF and the adjacent Royal & Derngate would give us greater flexibility to do this.

2. Film Northants is fundamentally about independent talent in the county and EFF’s remit is to promote both independent film and community projects. It therefore seemed like a more natural home for the festival than a chain, multiplex cinema.

3. We were unsure whether the public would want to see the festival held at a smaller venue and whether film-makers would still prefer to see their films on the same screen as the latest blockbusters, so we consulted widely. The overwhelming response was that the public and film-makers thought an independent cinema was the best home for Film Northants.

4. Moving to EFF gave us more flexibility with the dates meaning we could host two awards nights – one for the Over 16s (September 2nd) and one for the Under 16s (September 1st). This means we will be able to cater for them separately rather than having the Under 16s ‘tacked on’ to the main adult event.

5. At EFF we are able to have greater control of the screen and include Q&As, talks and panels – expanding our offering.

6. We have acknowledged that there is a demand for screenings for local films in different categories and longer than 5 minutes in length. At the EFF we can hold out-of-competition screenings throughout the year (we hope to do them in April, June and August) whilst also raising money to help run the overall festival.

7. Last year we were unable to host the ceremony reception in the Cineworld bar area which restricted the amount of space we had and limited the catering. With the move to EFF we will be able to use both the cinema bar and space within the Royal & Derngate building giving us more flexibility.

8. The Northants Film Network, which Film Northants runs with Reelscape Films and Andy Cox Music, meets at the Royal & Derngate, so it makes sense for Film Northants to be based in the same location.

9. Working alongside EFF and Royal & Derngate enables us to work alongside their press team to help promote the festival in the local media but also on the EFF website, particularly our screening dates.

10.  The EFF is fast becoming the place for local film events, with a cult cinema night and a partnership with the University of Northampton film course amongst other events, so we want to part of this vibrant film community.

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